The mystery lingers over the recent deaths of some 500 seagulls around a lake in the central Turkish province of Konya. Carcasses of slender-billed and black-headed seagulls were discovered at Düden Lake in the province’s Kulu district. Investigators from the Directorate of Nature Protection and National Parks did not find any injuries stemming from gunshots, a common cause of bird deaths at the hands of illegal hunters. A veterinary institute in Konya will perform necropsies on the animals to determine the exact cause of the death.

Lake Düden is known as a sanctuary for flamingos and stretches across an area of 860 square kilometers (332 square miles). It is home to some 42,000 birds from 180 species, including marbled duck, red-crested pochard, ferruginous duck, along with gulls. Located near larger Lake Tuz, Düden’s main source of water is nearby Değirmenözü stream and small creeks, along with waters from Kulu’s main water treatment plant. Media outlets reported that some carcasses were found near the canal carrying water from the plant.

Mass deaths of birds have become increasingly common in Turkey in recent years. In 2021, a large number of seagulls was found dead in Istanbul’s Lake Küçükçekmece while dozens of dead seagulls washed up on Lake Van’s shores in eastern Turkey in 2020. Lake Tuz too saw mass flamingo deaths last year. The mass deaths are tied to drought and pollution. Lake Tuz and Lake Van have partially dried up in the past two years.

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