Earlier last month I had written about over 800 dead dolphins washing up on Peru's shores, and the mystery environmental officials were confronted with in explaining the phenomenon. Viral and bacterial causes were being investigated and the public was assured that recent nearby seismic exploration was ruled out.
Officials were awaiting the results of histopathological analysis to help isolate the cause, but since the first report, I have not seen a single followup announcing it. But now, there is further news of over a thousand dead birds washing up in the same area.
At least 1,200 birds, mostly pelicans, have washed up dead along a stretch of Peru's northern Pacific coastline in recent weeks, according to health officials, and an estimated 800 dolphins have died in the same area in recent months.Fox News Latino's reports are more dire, saying beaches have actually been closed.
The health ministry recommended staying away from beaches, although it stopped short of a ban, and called on health officials to use gloves, masks and other protective gear when collecting dead birds.
The agriculture ministry said preliminary tests on some dead pelicans pointed to malnourishment. Oscar Dominguez, head of the ministry's health department, said experts had ruled out bird flu.
In an unprecedented ordinance which has generated both speculation and alarm, Peru has closed all ocean beaches north of Lima to the public.The preliminary theory is one of malnutrition, blamed on lack of food supply due to warmer temperatures.
Health officials are taking the extraordinary step of closing the beaches after hundreds of dolphin carcasses washed up on the shores of Peru – and the reason why continues to be a mystery. Peru’s Health Ministry and oceanographic institute say 877 dolphins and 1,200 pelicans have been found dead on the beaches since February, but their deaths don’t appear to be related.
"We're starting from the hypothesis that it's because the birds are young and unable to find enough food for themselves, and also because the sea temperature has risen and anchovies have moved elsewhere," said Juan Rheineck, the deputy agriculture minister.But nearly a thousand dead dolphins followed closely by even more dead pelicans in the same area, seems too coincidental to be unrelated.
A mass pelican death along Peru's northern coast in 1997 was blamed at the time on a shortage of their anchovy staple diet due to the El Niño weather pattern.