Over 260 dolphins found dead in Peru

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Over 260 dead dolphins washed ashore off the coast of Peru this month.

The dead Bottlenose dolphins were discovered along a 66-mile long stretch of coastline 500 miles north of Lima between the districts of San Jose and Palo Parado, in Morrope,  along with large quantities of dead anchovies.

Edward Barriga an official with Peru's Oceanic Institute (IMARPE) said that samples had taken to determine the cause of death and the results should be reported very soon.

Some speculation had been made that the dolphins were hunted but local fishermen report that it is rare to see dolphins in the area, plus there was a lack of any marks on the dolphins. Reports had also been issued of locals scavenging meat from the bodies.

Carlos Yaipen with ORCA, a non-governmental group that focuses helping ocean creatures in the south Pacific speculates that the cause of death may be due to the impact of off-shore oil exploration and drilling in the region.

However, the head of a Lambayeque group representing aquafarmers, Jorge Cabrejos, said that the dead anchovies which were also found in the area appeared to have eaten contaminated plankton, which then sickened the dolphins that ate the small fish. Although this does not explain why the dolphins were in the area initially or whether they died first and were washed up or beached themselves.

The news came just weeks after reports of over 170 short-beaked common dolphins beaching themselves off the coast of Cape Cod which resulted in over 120 of them dying. However this incident appears to be different in that the dolphins washing up are already dead.

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