500 Pelicans Die in Peru

Dead Pelicans
(Credit: BBC)
Picture 136
(Credit: BBC)

More than 500 pelicans have died off the coast of Peru, the BBC reports.

The Peruvian government is investigating the deaths of hundreds of birds which stretched along 40-miles of beach along their North Eastern coast.

Officials are saying the pelicans died over the last few days. But they are not the only animals to have mysteriously died in Peru recently.

The Peruvian Maritime Institute discovered the carcasses of 538 pelicans, 54 boobies, five sea lions and a turtle. All of the animals were at different stages of decomposition when they were found but appear to have died recently.

The local Peruvian media is suggesting there are over 1,200 dead Pelicans.

Earlier this year nearly 800 dolphins had perished along the same strip of land and the Peruvian government is “deeply worried.”

A report revealed the pelicans did not die at sea, but on the beach, possibly from a virus or seismic oil. Further tests will need to be conducted to pinpoint the exact cause of death.

Peru’s Deputy Minister for Natural Resource Development, Gabriel Quijandria Acosta, believes a virus may be responsible for the deaths of the dolphins, reports the BBC.

If a virus were the cause for the death of hundreds of pelicans, it wouldn’t be the first time a sickness wiped out mass amount of wildlife in Peru, as well in the United States and Mexico.

After an analysis was done on the dolphins, it was revealed they contracted a morbillivirus, which is similar to the measles for humans, Stefan Austermuehle of a local NGO, Mundo Azul, explained to the BBC.

“We know that in other cases in the United States up to 50 percent of populations were killed by the virus,” he said.

“What we also know…is that in previous cases animals that have higher loads of pollutants in their body will fall easier victims to these kind of diseases because their immune system is weakened.”