Government investigators in Peru have released a new explanation with regard to the sudden appearance of thousands of pelican carcasses in the northern coast of Peru. Evidence now points to starvation caused by overfishing.
Jose Delgado Castro, the chief of the Forest and Wildlife Administration of the Lambayeque region in Peru explained that his team has investigated the carcasses and that the marine birds exhibit clear signs of malnourishment: “they are underweight, and there was no food found in their throat pouches.” Speaking about the shortage of fish –particularly anchovy- in the coastal waters of the region, Mr. Delgado added: “this could be a matter of overfishing, pollution, or even the sonar activity by oil exploration ships.”
In the Piura and Lambayeque regions, the estimated number of Pelecanus thagus (Peruvian pelican) carcasses found is close to 1,500. Another 50 dead pelicans have been found on the beaches of La Libertad, and dolphin carcasses are turning up sporadically.
New Explanation for Dolphin Deaths
Thousands of stranded dolphin carcasses washed up on the beaches of Peru a month ago, as previously reported in The Costa Rica Star. Dr. Carlos Yaipen Llanos, a scientist working for non-profit marine mammal protective agency Blue Voice, counted 615 dead dolphins and 19 porpoises along 13 kilometers of Pacific shoreline in Peru from March 28th to April 6th, while 481 stranded dolphins ended up on the beach and perished while park rangers at the Chaparri Ecological Reserve struggled to return them to the ocean.
The initial investigation by Dr. Yaipen Llanos posited that the “marine bubble” phenomenon may have been behind the dolphin deaths:
“The oil exploration firms utilize different acoustic frequencies and wavelengths, and the effects of these sound bubbles are not visible to the naked eye, but they have harmful effects on animals. The acoustic impact can kill not only dolphins but also whales and other marine mammals. This impact can cause internal bleeding, disorientation, and loss of equilibrium.”
According to Dr. Yaipen Llanos, the long-nosed common dolphin (Delphinus capensis) migrates from Costa Rica to the Northern and Central Pacific coasts of Peru.
The new explanation for the dolphin deaths is morbillivirus, a strain similar to the virus that causes canine distemper. This explanation was presented by the United States Marine Mammal Center. The director of another marine mammal research organization, Mundo Azul, mentioned that the morbillivirus could mutate and affect humans; a scenario similar to that of bird flu.
Source: La Republica (Peru)