For more than two months, independent scientists, government agencies and oil company employees have been examining the bodies of dead dolphins who have been washing ashore by the hundreds on the beaches of Peru. The evidence is now conclusive: acoustical trauma, and most likely from oil exploration sonar.
Filmmaker and author Hardy Jones has been in Peru documenting the deaths (his crew gave up counting after the number reached 615). Jones is a veteran reporter on dolphins, including at the Taiji, Japan, massacres. When he arrived in Peru at the end of March, he posted this preliminary message:
HORRIFIC DOLPHIN MORTALITY NORTH COAST OF PERU.
I arrived here yesterday, Tuesday 3/28. In that one day we found 615 dead dolphins on 135 kilometers of beach north of San Jose, Peru. This tragedy is unspeakable. BlueVoice is working with Dr. Carlos Yaipen Llanos of ORCA Peru. Tissue samples have been obtained and will be analyzed. Never heard of this level of UME [Unusual Mortality Event].
Since then, Jones has been working with Dr. Yaipen Llanos of the Peruvian-based marine mammal rescue organization ORCA.
The necropsy results are now in, and the evidence is conclusive: Rather than a virus, parasites or other contaminants, the dolphins were killed by acoustic trauma – either loud sonar or explosive blasts. Dr. Llanos doesn’t speculate on the source of the trauma, but it’s well-known that oil companies have been using sonar and explosive blasts to explore for new oil well drilling. Offshore magazine reported in April that the company BPZ Energy had been conducting exploration in the region:
A new 3D seismic survey has been under way for a month on offshore block Z-1, and should be completed during 2Q 2012, followed by a period of processing and interpretation. The aim is to improve understanding of the geology of both fields, and to better define other prospects on the block for future exploration.