Peru officials have not officially closed the country’s beaches but they are warning people in the area to stay away from the waters around Lima and northward until researchers are able to determine why hundreds of dolphins and birds have been dying in the area since February.
Since the start of the year 877 dolphins have washed up on the shore of the country and more than 1,500 birds have fallen to the beaches, apparently after diving into the same water that may have killed the large population of Dolphins.
Researchers investigating the water believe the deaths could be attributed to oil exploration, biotoxins, or even pesticides, although they have not been able to reach a definite conclusion. Other scientists think a virus could be involved in the deaths of both species.
One local fisherman tells the New York Times:
“Never in my 40 years as a fisherman have I seen anything like this.”
While government officials say they have not reached a conclusion at this time they have begun to warn people not to eat raw seafood and to wear gloves and masks when handling the remains of marine animals.
There is a chance that the death of the Dolphins and birds are not directly related, the National Agricultural Health Service believes the birds may have been dying from a lack of food, mainly anchoveta (Engraulis ringens). Anchoveta have been in short supply because of recent ride in heat to coastal waters.
In the meantime officials are working around the clock to ensure the countries marine habitats, some of the richest in the world, continue to develop. The plankton in the area is so plentiful that Peru now contains the world’s largest fishery with a focus on the anchoveta, a key component in the diet of dolphins, seabirds and other predators.