In the past few days 481 dolphins have been found along the coast of Peru. This recent startling discovery puts the death toll to over 3,000 just in the last 3 months. Now residents are consulting expert biologists for answers to this unusual mass animal deaths.
While several natural theories are being discussed the most likely cause is the oil industry; who has been performing offshore oil exploration in the region.
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.”
A study done by the Zoological Society of London back in 2003, found that underwater sonar can cause microscopic bubbles of nitrogen in the bloodstream and vital organs of aquatic mammals, such as, dolphins and whales. The more common term for this condition is called “the bends.” Also, the use of low-range sensors tend to disorient the mammals and cause internal bleeding.
According to treehugger, Peruvian authorities have yet to identify the company whose activities may be leading to this grim toll on native marine life. According to Offshore Magazine, a trade publication of petroleum news, at least one entity, Houston-based oil company BPZ Energy, has been actively surveying the seabed along the coast of Peru since the beginning of the year.
Image Credit: bobistraveling