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3,000 Dolphins Found Dead on the Coast of Peru

by TreeHugger

Along just one stretch of coastline in Peru, more than 3,000 dead dolphins have washed ashore in just the last 3 months, and the disturbing trend may only be escalating. With the latest discovery of 481 lifeless dolphins there in recent days, residents have begun to demand an explanation for the mysterious mass deaths — and as far as enlisted experts can tell, offshore oil exploration in the region is the most likely culprit.

According to a report from Peru 21, local fishermen in Lambayeque, north Peru, were first to notice the inexplicable rise in dead dolphin appearing on shore — averaging roughly 30 per day. While such mass orca strandings are not entirely uncommon, or fully understood, Peruvian biologist Carlos Yaipen of the Scientific Organization for Conservation of Aquatic Animals says activity from petroleum companies in the nearby waters is to blame in this instance.

Yaipen believes that a controversial technique for detecting oil beneath the seabed, using sonar or acoustic sensing, is leading the death of marine life en masse.

“The oil companies use different frequencies of acoustic waves and the effects produced by these bubbles are not plainly visible, but they generate effects later in the animals. That can cause death by acoustic impact, not only in dolphins, but also in marine seals and whales.”

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After receiving reports of a massive die-off of dolphins along Peru’s north coast, BlueVoice Executive director Hardy Jones traveled to the scene. Working with Dr. Carlos Yaipen Llanos, Hardy covered 135 kilometers of beach and found 615 dead dolphins. At the moment he cause is unknown. Research into the die-off will continue.

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