Mystery of mass dolphin deaths in Peru
Maritime scientists in Peru are trying to solve a mystery that has turned stretches of the country's beaches into a grim dolphin morgue.
Officials in Lima said last week that 877 carcasses have washed up, an unprecedented number, along 100 miles of the Piura and Lambayeque coast. Nearly all are bottle-nosed dolphins, many in an advanced state of decomposition.
A possible explanation for the mass fatalities is underwater sound waves set off by explosions during oil exploration. But Peru's Deputy Environment Minister, Gabriel Quijandria, said he thought a powerful virus was the more likely cause. "So far, it's the most probable hypothesis, and it isn't the first time it's happened. There have been cases in Peru, in Mexico, the United States," he said. More should be known by the end of this week, when it is hoped the first results of testing on the remains will be released.
Suggestions that seismic shock waves are responsible will sound alarm bells among environmentalists. Last week, Carlos Yaipen-Llanos, who leads Orca, the international animal welfare organisation that focuses on whales and dolphins, said that some of the dolphins have broken bones in their ears and collapsed organs, which would be consistent with sound-wave damage.
Exploration in the area has been carried by a Houston-based oil company, BPZ, which uses underwater explosions to test for evidence of oil reserves. Mr Yaipen-Llanos says that some of the dolphins had bubbles and blood in their sinuses, which could indicate rapid ascent in panic, resulting in the bends.
However, Mr Quijandria noted that the carcasses began washing up in January, before recent rounds of seismic tests.
Greenpeace comes to the aid of Britain's small fishing vessels
Backbench rebellion threat sees fracking regulations toughened
Frilled shark: Australian fishermen capture terrifying shark from the deep
Devon beavers can stay living in the wild, Natural England rules
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Louise Mensch says 'F**K YOU' in explosive tweets about David Cameron, Saudi Embassy and the Queen over King Abdullah tributes
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...
£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...