Peru’s Environmental Health Office issues Precautions in Wake of Dying Pelicans and Dolphins

No beaches and no raw fish is the Environmental Health office’s precautionary warning this week, following the death of hundreds of pelicans and dolphins along the 1,000-kilometer stretch between Piura and Lima.

Although specialists say there is no risk involved to humans, either by going to the beach or eating fish, the warning is to prevent any possible infections from the dead animals while scientists confirm the reasons for the deaths.

Around 1,000 dolphins and more than 4,000 pelicans have died on Peruvian shores since January this year.

Tests are being carried out at the Cayetano Heredia Environmental Sustainability laboratories.  The U.S. Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency is working with the scientists, as with the Instituto del Mar, Imarpe, whose scientific director, Raul Castillo, is expected to report on the findings today in Congress.

The dolphins have been dying from a virus, according to marine conservationist Patricia Majluf, who was vice-minister of fisheries until her resignation last week.  The virus, she says, is hardly surprising “considering all the garbage we dump into the sea.”

Contrary to news from Piura, Majluf denied that the dolphins may have been affected by the sonar waves from 3D seismic tests being carried out for oil exploration. “Dolphins would just move away, they are not fools.”

The pelicans, on the other hand, are dying from hunger.  Warm water has pushed the shoals of anchovy to seek cooler waters further south, away from the pelicans’ natural habitat.  The pelicans are unsuccessfully trying to follow the fish.

Carlos Bocanegra, of the Fisheries Biology department at the University of Trujillo, said earlier this week that analyses on dead pelicans show parasites and other proof of malnutrition in otherwise healthy animals.

The last recorded massive death of pelicans was in 1997, according to Abraham Levy, head of the private weather monitoring company Meteorología.  The body of warm water could be the early signs of an El Niño oscillation, he said.

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One Comment

  1. deborah sletten says:

    It is possible that the dolphins and pelicans are dying as a result of nuclear waste from the Fukashima accident.

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