Peruvian scientists say that 50 sea lions found dead by fishermen on a northern beach last month were poisoned with pesticide, daily El Comercio reported.
Scientists from the Peruvian sea institute, the Instituto del Mar, or Imarpe, said that the sea lions had eaten fish that contained high-levels of pesticides that are commonly used in agriculture to control rodents.
Specialists from Imarpe believe that the sea lions were intentionally poisoned, according to the report. Their conclusion is “based on the number of dead sea lions, the location of the beaching, the fact that the remains presented an abundance and semi-digested stomach contents, as well as the presence of lethal dosis of [pesticide].”
Peru’s Production Ministry, which Imarpe is linked to, said it will start investigations into the deaths.
The sea lions were found on the Bodegones beach on the Lambayeque coast.
Last year, hundreds of dolphins and birds were found dead on Peru’s northern beaches. Specialists never fully determined the reason for the deaths. A possible link to deep sonar oil exploration in the ocean was discarded by most scientists, and the preliminary studies showed that starvation was the probable cause, due to a decline in anchovy schools close to shore, which dolphins and birds rely on for food.