Dolphins Dying in Record Numbers: Peru, China, India, and Gulf of Mexico
(April 22) Scientists say they are investigating the mysterious deaths of 877 dolphins washed ashore in Peru this year. More than 80% of those dolphins were found in an advanced state of decomposition, making it difficult to study their deaths. The porpoises and dolphin carcasses have washed up in a 220-kilometer (137-mile) area from Punta Aguja to Lambayeque, in the north of the country. Marine experts say the most likely cause is some sort of virus, but environmentalists claim sound waves from seismic oil exploration are to blame. The head of a local fisherman’s association said that he estimated more than 3,000 dolphins had died so far this year, based on what he saw in the water and on beaches.
The dolphin deaths in Peru are mark the third set of high-profile strandings in about two months. In February, 179 dolphins –108 of which were dead — washed ashore in Cape Cod, in eastern United States. Marine biologists are still trying to determine the cause of those deaths. In early March, amateur video taken from a beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, showed more than 30 dolphins on shore. In that instance, all dolphins were safely returned to the sea.
(April 25) In the fourth such incident in the past month, an eight-ft-long dead dolphin was washed ashore at Bandra Bandstand in Mumbai on the west coast of India. A humpback whale was found dead at Diveagar coast in Raigad last week. This came after two whales of the same species were found beached at Uran and off Priyadarshini Park, Napean Sea Road, on March 29 and March 31. (Source)
(April 18) Within the last month and a half, the corpses of 12 endangered finless porpoises, including a pregnant one, have been found around Dongting Lake, Hunan province, China. (Source) Two have been found dead every week on average for the last six weeks in Dongting Lake, Hunan province. Yangtze Daily reports more than 20 other casualties have been found in Poyang Lake, Jiangxi province, since February, including four this month. These are alarming statistics of the Yangtze finless porpoise, aka the “river pig”. (Source)
(April 7) In the past couple of months alone, over a dozen dead dolphins, usually seen frolicking in the calm blue-green Konkan coast waters, washed up on different virgin beaches in the region. Conservationists suspect chemical or oil poisoning. (Source)
(April 3) The dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico are in the midst of a massive die-off. The reasons why remain a complicated and mysterious mix of oil, bacteria and the unknown. Normally an average of 74 dolphins are stranded on the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico each year, especially during the spring birthing season. But between February 2010 and April 1, 2012, 714 dolphins and other cetaceans have been reported as washed up on the coast from the Louisiana/Texas border through Franklin County, Florida. Ninety-five percent of the mammals were dead. (Source) A 300-pound dead dolphin washed onto Orange beach, Alabama on April 5. (Source)
(March 14) The rate of cetacean strandings on the Irish coast remains unusually high, according to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG). The group’s Cetacean Stranding Scheme recorded 162 strandings in 2011 which, while numbers do vary from year to year, was 25-30 more than anticipated. And already this year the numbers are up on last year’s ‘inexplicable’ records for the first quarter. Some 21 strandings were reported to the IWDG in January alone – the highest ever number recorded for that month, well above the average of 13. February’s figures are even more worrying, with 30 strandings reported this year compared to a five-year average of 11.4. (Source)
Is a pattern emerging? Are people convinced that the oceans are now filled with dying creatures? Is it already happening – coastlines bearing the brunt of them washing ashore? How many believe that the death toll will mount until the currents become so congested with decaying fish and other oceanic wildlife that shipping lanes will be blocked? Will disease spread swiftly as the rotting corpses contaminate the sea and the air? Continue to watch what will soon wash up from the dying seas.
Mass stranding of dolphins and whales in U.S., Peru, Ireland, and New Zealand
Large whales washing ashore: Another sign of our dying oceans (Part II)
Mass Animal Deaths: April 2012
Mass Animal Deaths: March 2012