Marine biologists in Brazil are puzzled by a huge wave of penguins that have washed up on beaches along the southern coast of the country over the past week.

A total of 512 penguins were found on the coast of Rio Grande do Sul state and it is unknown how the creatures died.

According to reports, the penguins, who appeared to be well-fed and uninjured, were migrating northward in search of warmer waters.

The global penguin population has been in steep decline, with scientists warning that conservation efforts must be applied to save them. Scientists specifically fear that climate change may be forcing penguins to adopt erratic migratory patterns, exacerbating their demise.