1,200 dead pelicans wash ashore on beach in Peru
It’s that time of year again, that time being whenever it is that unexplained mass animal deaths occur.
Wildlife experts were at a loss in early 2011 to explain the mass bird and fish deaths that seemed to occur with alarming regularity, prompting religious fanatics to proclaim the end of days were upon us. Since that time, many of these phenomena have been explained as effects of bad weather or a reaction to a New Year’s Eve fireworks.
No official word has yet been offered for the pelican die-off in Lima. New York’s Daily News writes:
Puerto Eten fisherman’s association president Fernando Niquen says his group found about 1,200 dead pelicans Thursday and Friday along a 105-mile (170-kilometer) stretch of coastline.
The government’s Institute of the Sea says it found nearly 600 dead birds, mostly pelicans but also gannets, along a 43-mile (70-kilometer) stretch.
The area perhaps coincidentally was the site of a recent mass dolphin die-off that involved 900 of the sea-going mammals.
Addressing the pelican deaths, a regional chief, Edward Barriga, recalls a similar die-off of pelicans and cormorants in the same area in 1997. The cause of the earlier die-off was a lack of anchovies, which the birds rely on as a primary source of food. That lack was blamed, in turn, on the El Nino meteorological phenomenon.
The current mass deaths differs from the earlier die-off in terms of sheer size alone. A coast guard official in Lambayeque us quoted by the Daily News as claiming he has never seen so many dying pelicans on the beach in his 25 years on the job.