A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases <http://www.isid.org>

Date: Wed 23 May 2012
Source: Kristv.com [edited]

The mass die-off of nearly 900 dolphins and porpoises along Peru's coast remains unsolved, Peru's government marine research agency says.

Tuesday's [22 May 2012] final report by the Sea Institute ruled out viral and bacterial infections, human intervention, pesticides or heavy metals as causes for the deaths, which were 1st noticed on 7 Feb
2012 and continued through mid-April [2012]. It speculated that biotoxins, algae blooms, or an unknown emerging disease could be to blame.

The Peruvian environmental group Orca, which 1st alerted the public to the deaths, insists that seismic testing used in oil exploration was likely the cause.

But the institute said that experts found no evidence any of the deaths were a result of seismic soundings, which involve shooting compressed air at the sea floor: There were no signs of internal hemorrhages or brain lesions that would be compatible with damage from such tests. But it said it did notice damage to some plankton where the soundings were done.

Orca contested those findings in its own report on Tuesday [22 May 2012], saying it had independently confirmed hemorrhages and middle-ear infections as well as the presence of air bubbles in internal organs and severe lung damage.

Several leading Peruvian scientists complained that the government agency was late in gathering samples, making it harder to determine the cause of death because the tissue tested was so badly decomposed.

The Sea Institute based its findings on autopsies of just 2 dead dolphins, which were collected in mid-April [2012], while Orca said it gathered the 1st of the samples it tested on 12 Feb [2012].

Seismic testing in the area was conducted between 7 Feb and 8 Apr [2012] by Houston-based BPZ Energy.

The institute report said the testing occurred 50 to 80 miles (80 to 130 km) off shore and that the equipment used was calibrated in those waters between 31 Jan and 7 Feb [2012].

It said testing also ruled out morbillivirus, a type of distemper that some government officials had suggested as a likely cause long before kits arrived from the United States to check for it.

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap alerts

[The findings are difficult to judge without examining both reports. A concomitant pelican die-off due to malnutrition and parasites occurred along the same coastline (see ProMED post 20120506.1124416). It is unknown whether both events are related, but seismic exploration would not affect pelicans in this way, at least directly. Can seismic exploration cause a lack of the main food item for pelicans, the Peruvian anchoveta?

The interactive HealthMap/ProMED map of the affected area is available
at: <http://healthmap.org/r/2fMi>. - Mod.PMB]

[see also:
Undiagnosed die-off, dolphin - Russia, Ukraine: Black Sea
Pelican die-off - Peru (02): parasites and malnutrition
Pelican die-off - Peru: RFI 20120502.1120839 Dolphin die-off - Peru: morbillivirus susp. 20120422.1110060 Die-off, seal, dolphin - USA: New England, update 20120209.1037523
Undiagnosed dolphin die-off - USA: (MS, AL) 20111202.3510 2010
Dolphin die-off - USA: (southern coast) 20100609.1929
Cetacean morbillivirus, dolphins - Black Sea: susp, RFI 20090831.3066 Dolphin mortality - India 20090401.1250
Dolphin die-off - USA: (TX) 20080305.0913] .................................................sb/pmb/msp/dk/ll

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