Dolphins and Birds Dying on the Coast of Peru â€“ No Clear Answer Why
Something is terribly wrong on the coast of Peru. Â At least 877 dolphins and more than 1,500 birds, most of them brown pelicans and boobies, have died along the coast since February when theÂ governmentÂ started tracking the deaths. TheÂ government says that the deaths of the dolphins and birds areÂ unrelated.Â Â The dolphinÂ deathsÂ have been blamed on theÂ morbillivirus, while the bird deaths are blamed on starvation from aÂ shortage ofÂ anchoveta, a fish of the anchovy family. Â Reportedly, the recent El NiĂ±o has raised coastal waterÂ temperaturesÂ causing the fish to stay in deeper colder waters beyond the reach of the sea birds. Â Now, three months after Peruvian government officials began testing the dead dolphins and pelicans, no definitive results have been released, and there is growing suspicion among the public and scientists that there might be more to the story.
Dead Dolphins and Birds Are Causing Alarm in Peru
Mr. Ă‘iquen RenterĂa, 57, from Puerto Eten, who fishes for small sharks and flatfish, contends that the government is underestimating the extent of the dolphin deaths. He said by telephone that he had seen at least 3,000 dead dolphins on the beach since November and that they were still dying, although no longer in such large numbers.
The Peruvian news media have raised the possibility that pesticides could be poisoning the animals. Pedro Alva, president of the Regional Development Institute of the Lambayeque region, suggested that raw sewage or another effluent could be the culprit.Â
â€śItâ€™s unbearable to walk around those areas,â€ť Mr. Alva said of the rapidly growing towns along the coast. â€śThey dump both their industrial and residential wastes into the ocean without control, without consideration.â€ť
Sophie Bertrand, a marine ecologist at the Research Institute for Development in France who is leading a research project on seabirds and sea lions in Peru, said that if there was a common factor linking the die-offs, it would probably be found in the anchoveta, eaten by all of the species concerned.
Video from last February:
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