by Hardy Jones
An apocalyptic die-off of dolphins is occurring along the coastline of northern Peru. The reasons for the die-off are as yet unknown, though several culprits have emerged.
During February of this year reports appeared in a few newspapers that as many as 260 dolphins had washed ashore along the coast of northern Peru. On March 23rd I received an email from Dr. Carlos Yaipen Llanos, Lima-based director of the marine mammal rescue organization, ORCA Peru, stating he knew of thousands of dead dolphins in the same area.
The area of the Unusual Mortality Event (UME), as scientists refer to such mass mortalities, is along a bleak, desert coast, location of one of the most abundant fisheries in the world and the mating and feeding habitat for huge numbers of dolphins, sea lions and birds. If the mortality numbers reported were even close to accurate, this would be among the greatest UMEs ever recorded. In the United States declaration of an UME triggers funding for interdisciplinary teams of experts to investigate the situation. There is currently a UME in the Gulf of Mexico, likely resulting from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill.
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