One of the biggest mysteries of the first days of 2011 has religious and environmental experts flummoxed. In the past few days, fish and birds the world over have been dying in large numbers. Experts have speculated that fireworks in Arkansas killed 3,000 red-winged blackbirds. Meanwhile, hundreds of dead birds were found in nearby Louisiana. Mass fish kills have occurred in Brazil and New Zealand. And as CNN reports, now 2 million fish have turned up dead on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay.

Authorities determined that cold water stress coupled with a too-large population may have killed the 2 million juvenile spot fish that washed up in Maryland. Via CNN, the Maryland Department of the Environment said in a press release, "The affected fish are almost exclusively juvenile spot fish, 3 to 6 inches in length. [A recent survey] showed a very strong population of spot in the bay this year. An increased juvenile population and limited deep water habitat would likely compound the effects of cold water stress."

While dead birds have fallen from the skies in Arkansas, dead fish have also washed up in the state’s rivers. Experts are blaming New Year's Eve fireworks for confusing the Arkansas birds, which died of blunt force trauma after flying into the ground. In Baton Rouge, La., some 500 small birds dropped to their deaths. Experts are waiting on toxicology reports on those birds. Meanwhile, in Sweden, 50 jackdaw birds fell from the sky, and authorities are blaming fireworks or possibly the weather.

Marine life has suffered a similar fate in the new year. Around 25,000 dead velvet swimming crabs washed up on the shores of Great Britain, where extreme cold temperatures may be to blame. A “carpet” of dead snapper was created on a New Zealand beach. As the Examiner reports, 100 tons of dead sardines were found in Brazil over the weekend.

But as Discovery News points out, birds falling from the sky isn’t that unusual. Experts say that mass die-offs are common due to weather, disease or poisonings — or in some cases, fireworks. Further, they are more frequent in animals that travel in groups. We may just notice them more in modern times because humans have encroached on so much once wild territory.

Nonetheless, some are pointing to an “end of days” scenario for the massive die-offs. Anderson Cooper recently asked noted born-again Christian Kirk Cameron if a biblical apocalypse was upon us. As the star of the “Left Behind” movies told Cooper, all is well. According to Cameron, "People love to find codes and signs of future events and see if they can decipher them before anybody else. But birds falling from the sky? That has to do more with pagan mythology; the direction that the birds flew told some of the followers of some of those legends that the gods were either pleased or displeased with them."

For further reading:

Millions of dead fish found in Maryland, Brazil and other parts of the world
2 million fish wash up in the Chesapeake Bay while dead fish are found in parts of Brazil and New Zealand.