Details are still surfacing over a shocking and unexplained mortality event (UME), which has claimed the lives of hundreds of dolphins along the Peruvian coastline. Jones who is currently in Chiclayo investigating the deaths, said he arrived in the country on Tuesday in response to an email alert from Dr. Carlos Yaipen Llanos, the Lima-based director of the marine mammal rescue organization, ORCA Peru.
Yaipen's email informed Jones that as many as one thousand dolphins had possibly stranded themselves on the Peruvian coastline. "Lest there be any doubt," Jones said in a statement today at The Voice of the Dolphins
, "stranded means dead in virtually all cases."
Jones was already on high alert after rumors described a similar event in the same area last month, when media reports
claimed 264 bottlenose dolphin had died on a 66-mile stretch of coastline 500 miles north of Lima. At the time of the event, the dolphin deaths were attributed to contaminated anchovies, or the impact of off-shore oil exploration and drilling in the region. [Video above].
Yet, said Jones, "after some authorities dismissed the report. I backed off the story." But Yaipen's email announcement disturbed the BlueVoice co-founder:
"If the numbers were even close to accurate this would be perhaps the greatest dolphin mortality event ever recorded. I called Dr. Yaipen. He had a man on the ground north of Chiclayo who confirmed large numbers of dolphins stranded along 200 kilometers of the coast."
Jones flew to Peru on Tuesday determined he said, to find evidence of the 1,000 dolphins. "We were told the greatest concentration was three hours drive north," Jones added, but only a few hundred yards into their trip, the crew began to spot dead dolphins.
Sporadic sightings at first revealed dolphins either in various stages of decomposition, or freshly stranded. "All were dead," Jones said, including, "a new born common dolphin, umbilicus still attached." Yaipen, he added, conducted necropsies on several of the dolphins, and took samples for laboratory testing.
Jones, Yaipen and his assistants, continued to count dolphins until the rising tide forced them of the beach. Jones reported the devastating final tally via Facebook
"To date we have found 615 dead dolphins on 135 kilometers of beach N of San Jose, Peru. This tragedy is unspeakable. BlueVoice is working with Dr. Carlos Yaipen Llanos of ORCA Peru. Tissue samples have been obtained and will be analyzed. Never heard of this level of UME. This must be investigated."
BlueVoice board of directors member, Jeff Friedman, told Digital Journal that Jones has confirmed the "primary species [...] found, was long-beaked common dolphin." Jones and Yaipen are currently in a Lima lab testing samples taken from the dead dolphins.
Long-beaked common dolphins are usually found in groups averaging from 100-500 animals, but have been occasionally seen in larger herds of thousands of individuals.
hopes to release video, images and further information shortly, said Friedman.
Update, April 03: BlueVoice.org has just released this video of the catastrophe in Peru:
Hardy Jones added:
"Carlos and I went hunting for vendors of dolphin meat but found none, not surprising as the practice is illegal and we are obvious outsiders. But children on the beach told us it was common to sell dolphin meat. The way it is done is horrific. The dolphins are netted offshore and brought to shore alive, then bludgeoned to death." Read more at BlueVoice.org