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Did Toxic Green Algae Kill 32 Wild Boars in France?

32 wild boars have been found dead in Morieux on the Brittany coast in northwest France, not far from the tourist destination of côtes d’Armôr. Green algae, which has already led to beach closures, is being pointed to as a likely culprit as dead boars wash up on France’s coastline. Speculation remains open about how the algae got there, with environmentalists pointing the finger at the nitrates in fertilizers used in intensive pig, sheep and dairy farming in Brittany, says the Guardian.

The algae drying up on the Brittany coast is ulva or sea lettuce and is not itself harmful, says the Los Angeles Times, but that changes after it washes up on land and dries. As it decomposes, the algae gives off a foul odor and toxic gas — most likely hydrogen sulfide, which the bodies of the dead boars is being tested for — is trapped beneath its crust. Breaking the algae’s crust releases a smell like rotting eggs.

Environmentalist Gilles Huet says that one theory in the boars’ death is that they may have drunk water containing the algae. Police officer Philippe De Gestas points out that the animals did not die by drowning.

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