What is Going on With Peru's Dolphins and Pelicans?

"Something awful is happening in the waters off Peru's northern coast, where some 3,000 dolphins have died and washed ashore since January. This rates as one of the worst, if not the worst, Unusual Mortality Event (UME) ever recorded. ...

In recent weeks more than 1,200 dead seabirds, mostly pelicans, have washed up along the same Peruvian beaches. And Saturday the government declared a health alert along Peru's northern coastline, urging residents and tourists to stay away from the beach while it investigates the unexplained deaths. It also warned local officials to wear protective gear when handling dead birds and animals."

Necropsies of dead animals by veterinarians point tentatively to the possibility of ear injuries (which might be caused by seismic testing by oil and gas companies) and infectious outbreaks for the dolphins, and possible starvation caused by lack of anchovies (a result of changing ocean conditions) for the birds. No clear conclusions have been drawn.

Julia Whitty reports for Mother Jones May 7, 2012.


"Dead Dolphins and Birds Are Causing Alarm in Peru" (New York Times)

"Peru Issues Public Health Alert Over Pelican And Dolphin Deaths" (Guardian)

Source: Mother Jones, 05/08/2012