Though 30 birds were rescued from the seashore, only nine survived, marine animal experts said.
Despite the best efforts of a team of Uruguayan marine biologists, over 100 migrating penguins died after suffering from anemia and hypothermia while enroute to Brazil, NGO SOS Rescate de Fauna Marina (SOS Rescue Marine Fauna) confirmed Friday.
The colony of Magellanic (or Patagonian) Penguins were found earlier this week, along the shores of Maldonado, Canelones and Rocha, weak and convalescent, experts said.
"This year they passed a little earlier than normal, they began to appear in the district of Maldonado and Rocha and, due to the storm, we found them from Montevideo to Rocha," said organization director, Richard Tesore.
Though 30 birds were rescued from the seashore, only nine have survived.
"Most arrived in a state of hypothermia, anemic and so weak that they could not stop and many died in the first hours of arriving at the coast," he said.
Many of the penguins had begun to mult prematurely, while others showed signs of malnutrition, weighing only a kilo and a half, instead of four or five kilos.
“Of those who arrived, 15 died instantly because we could not stabilize them," Tesore said.
Those penguin survivors will be nurtured back to health before being set free into the ocean to complete their migration, he said.
There are a few theories behind the mysterious and tragic migration. One is that the changing temperatures, rising over the last few years, may have pushed the waddle to leave their home early this year.
"The other theory is that both last year and this one there have been a lot of food near the breeding areas, which allowed the parents who normally lay two eggs and raise one alone, raise the two chicks,” he said.
The overpopulation forces younger birds to leave the rookery early, often less prepared for their trip which can be as much as 8,000 km, said Tesore.