GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Hundreds of dolphins washed up on Peruvian coasts earlier this year died from “natural causes”, and not from explosions in offshore oil exploration, says Fisheries Minister, Gladys Trevino.
An earlier study by the environmental group Orca, which tested 30 dead dolphins found on Peru’s northwestern coast, suggested that explosions had caused the deaths. Tests had shown broken ears and damaged organs, which may have triggered the deaths.
Trevino said that a government study by Peru’s Maritime Institute (Imarpe) ruled out oil exploration as being responsible for the die-off, and that viral and bacterial infections could also be excluded as lethal causes. “It’s not the first time that this has happened”, she said referring to similar incidences of dolphin deaths in New Zealand and Australia.
Peruvian scientists contest Imarpe’s results, saying collection of samples was late, making research more difficult as the material would be often decomposed.
Thousands of dead seabirds, including pelicans were also found in the same area since the beginning of the year. Trevino said there will government report on the cause of those deaths, but suggested that it was related to a “food problem”.