Scientists from Peru’s Ocean Institute (IMARPE) think they’ve discovered the cause of the mass dolphin deaths along the northern coast of Peru: poisonous algae.
According to El Comercio, researchers took tissue samples from four dolphins and one penguin who were found dead on beaches in Piura and Lambayeque. The samples showed that the animals had ingested a substance that had caused their internal organs, including the brain, kidneys, liver, and adrenal glands, to degenerate.
Though it’s hard to know exactly what the animals could have consumed in order to produce this kind of biological reaction, IMARPE scientists think that naturally-occurring toxins in certain algaes could be to blame. El Comercio reports that the poisonous compounds in the algae could have been activated by changes in temperature or pollution. Further tests will be carried out in order to confirm or disprove the algae hypothesis.
Scientists and local residents continue to find corpses of marine mammals along the northern coast; according to El Comercio, as many as 100 specimens may have been found in the last 10 days. Most of the animals are already in an advanced state of decomposition when they are found.
In Lambayeque, 79.9 % of all specimens found so far are different species of dolphin. 8.93% are sea lions, 7.65% are turtles, and 3.46% are birds.
Source: Peru this Week