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Dead dolphins: Autopsies underway in mass killing, 400 animals lifeless on beach

Dead dolphins washing up on the beaches of Peru has recently sparked international worry over the mysterious deaths of these intelligent animals. Autopsies are now underway in an attempt to discover why these mass killing continue to occur; in addition to over 400 dolphins being found in the past weeks, hundreds also perished back in 2012 from unknown reasons as well. The CS Monitor reports this Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, that autopsy results are expected in less than two weeks, and that marine life experts are hoping to counter whatever may be causing the downfall of these sea creatures.

Photo of a dead dolphin washed up on the beach
IFAW.org Photo, Twitter

The dead dolphins have been appearing on a number of Pacific Ocean beaches throughout northern Peru. Over 400 lifeless animals were discovered just last month on the shore, where hundreds of others were also found back in 2012. Officials noted this Monday that the reason for this mass slaying remains an utter mystery. Authorities have been unable to establish a concrete cause for all of these animals dying, though the dolphins found this January off the coast in the Lambayeque region are currently having autopsies completed in the hopes that science may bring forth some much-needed answers.

The focus of these post-death medical exams is to target the lungs, kidneys, and livers of these dead dolphins. Officials expect autopsy results to be completed before the end of Feb. 2014, as they fear that dolphin numbers may continue to dwindle in the Pacific Ocean if this dangerous and fatal trend continues. In addition to the 400 dolphins that washed to shore lifelessly just last month, over 850 were similarly found back in 2012.

Early hypotheses suggest that seismic testing of a mystery ailment or deadly biotoxins in the sea may be potential causes of these tragic mass killings. What’s worse, notes expert Yuri Hooker, is that the autopsies on these dead dolphins may come back inconclusive, as they did back in 2012. However, environmental contamination is a likely factor.

“Yuri Hooker, director of the marine biology unit at Cayetano Heredia University, told a news source that in other parts of the world, a majority of dolphin fatalities generally are caused by environmental contamination. Either the sea mammals eat fish and other smaller species filled with toxins or else they ingest discarded plastic floating in the sea … The marine biologist also added that determining the death of dolphins is "complicated" in Peru because government laboratories have only three or four of the 100 or so chemical reagents that can be used to determine the animals' cause of death.”

It is hopeful that answers may be found soon to see if anything can be done to prevent future deaths of these graceful and intelligent sea creatures.