It’s bad enough that thousands of dolphins have been washing up on the shores of Northern Peru – 3,000 so far this year. Now we’re hearing that pelicans and other animals are suffering the same fate.[readon]
Initially, scientists believed that the cause of death was sonar blasts from companies probing for oil. The oil companies disputed this – which was no surprise, but there’s still no conclusive proof that this is the cause. And the deaths of hundreds of pelicans, along with 54 boobies, several sea lions and gannets and a turtle during the last two weeks just adds to the mystery.
Peru’s Deputy Minister for Natural Resource Development, Gabriel Quijandria Acosta, believes a virus might have killed the dolphins. Stefan Austermuehle of a local NGO, Mundo Azul believes the dolphins may have contracted a morbillivirus – the same group as the measles virus in humans.
“We also know that in previous cases animals that have higher loads of pollutants in their body will fall easier victims to these kind of diseases because their immune system is weakened,” he said.
A viral epidemic outbreak was linked to similar deaths of marine wildlife in Peru in the past, as well as in Mexico and the United States.
The Peru government has said it is “deeply worried,” and a preliminary report said there was no evidence to show the pelicans had died at sea, but rather on the beach where they were found.
Results of tests carried out on the dead dolphins are due to be released in the coming days.