877 dolphins wash up dead in Peru. Why?

Dolphin carcasses are displayed by conservationists and environmental police officers at San Jose beach, 40kms north of Chiclayo, Peru, on April 6, 2012. The cause of death of over 800 dolphins in the last four months on the shores of Piura and Lambayeque are still being researched, Gabriel Quijandria, Deputy Environment Minister said on April 20, 2012. More about the ongoing investigation into the possible cause of these mass die-offs: CBS News, MSNBC, AFP, DPA, CNN, (REUTERS/Heinze Plenge)


  1. I salute the dolphins for being able to put up with us for this long before succumbing to mass suicide.

  2. I’m sure it wont be blamed on man made environmental hazards.Some corporation will make sure of that. 

  3. Man-made, or natural phenom?

    Navy sonar blamed for death of beaked whales found washed up in the Hebrides


    Lethal Sounds

    The use of military sonar poses a deadly threat to whales and other marine mammals

    Gray whale during sonar test in Saratoga Passage, 2012, Orca Network

    Sorry about the gross pictures. Work-safe but not lunch-safe.

    Thank you Xeni for posting this, and all the other blows for justice you strike and shall continue to strike for a long, healed and healthy lifetime. Thank you for speaking for the oppressed and jailed, for those who may not have internet savvy or access, or even access to human words.

    1. Brian Dunning at Skeptoid did a very interesting look into this: 
      http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4236 . Sonar may be an issue, however, if you want to save marine mammals, many more can be saved by improving our fishing techniques- Brian mentions that the yearly kill as a result of fishing operations is 60,000 times worse than what can be chalked up to Sonar. 

      The military has been taking into account whale safety in their sonar tests- I’m not as sure about fossil fuel exploration.  Awareness is important, but so is taking effective action. 

  4. A Russian spacecraft filled with toxic fuel recently went down.  If the (frozen) fuel survived re-entry, we could expect all ocean life to perish in this next part of history.   It is always concerning when sea people beach themselves in protest, or just die off.

    1. what the hell are you talking about…I have a feeling 1000 oil tankers for of “toxic fuel” couldn’t put an end to anything in next part of history…

  5. Off the coast of northern Peru (Piura) there is a significant amount of off-shore oil & gas exploration and drilling. One of the companies operating in that area (approximately 400 kms north of the beaches where the dolphins have washed up) is called BPZ Resources, domiciled in the US, but operating in Peru. Apparently they have been using a sounding technique that some third parties (environmental groups) allege are responsible for the deaths. BPZ has denied this-their PR guy has prepared a NR so you know they’re telling the truth-and the suggestion is that the dolphins have been succumbing to morbillivirus.

    I guess it requires study but one thing I would like to know is when did BPZ Resources start employing the sounding technique. Another E&P called Vietnamese-American Oil is operating in the same area as well. These small operations seem to have access to fairly advanced US Navy sonar technology. Muy interesante, no creen?

    BTW, the comments in the main have simply inane. Geesh. There are two exceptions- thanks in particular to j9c.

    1.  Thanks for this, Mike. That’s an alarming nexus, the petroleum industry using mil-spec hardware at the peril of any vulnerable lifeforms (read: vulnerable inasmuch as they don’t have lobbyists, deep pockets, or control of vast amounts of exploitable natural resources).

      Muy interesante.

      Also, ick on a lot of levels.

      Long have I dreamed of a research org (peer-reviewed, nonprofit, staffed by competent clear-eyed scientists, young ones fresh from grad school and old ones whose mental databases need downloading–ASAP ) that’s a cross between Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, 5 Gyres and the Society for Marine Mammology. And a dose of the passion like those Patagoniacs over at The Cleanest Line.

      Trouble is, nitty-gritty research is not very telegenic (so consciousness-raising ala Sea Shepherd isn’t going to work… those readouts generated by the mass spectrometer aren’t exciting to most people), and the research would require placing whatever agents of these strandings at the scene of the crime, time and place and means. Ever been out on the ocean, folks? It’s really big! Like, bigger than all our landmasses put together! And it’s really hard to patrol, because so much of the ocean is… underwater! Being on the water isn’t much help either for wide area recon, so you’d need some air support.

      Sigh. The overhead must be huge for this kind of research or environmental law enforcement. And corporations are famous for using the ol’ “correlation is not causation” defense. And grinding complainants down in lengthy court battles. By the time anyone gets traction with the real offenders, the species requiring defense and protection may go extinct.

      Marine mammals like whales and dolphins are sentient, extremely intelligent beings. They are more intelligent than the average dog, more intelligent than young human children. Go look up John Lilly’s findings, or just see the wiki article on cetacean intelligence with a plethora of tempting external links. Dolphins and whales are social, have a language made of songs, have a sense of play, and great problem solvers. They just live underwater and away from our human purview, where it’s hard for a Dianne Fossey or a Jane Goodall to research and publicize observations and data, for minimal cost, all that cool stuff for public consumption [and thus public scrutiny and outcry at foul play].

      Jacques Cousteau once said that the unexplored wilderness really begins, for most humans at least, at the ocean’s edge. Despite the many well-crafted film and video documentaries that have come out in recent decades, I completely agree with Cousteau. We know very little about what goes on in the deep blue seas. We are only beginning to understand their crucial role in global climate dynamics. How do we protect this vast wild place? A place that, for so many of us landlubbers and flipper-less types, is beyond our cultural and literal grasp most of the time?

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