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Peru Bird Deaths Spread to Chile by the Thousands May 18, 2012
Dead birds on Peru coast
Thousands of dolphins and maritime birds, including many pelicans, have been found dead in coastal Chile and neighboring Peru in recent weeks.
A possibly emerging El Niño ocean-warming off the coast of Peru may be responsible for the huge number of bird deaths along that country’s coast, as well as farther south in Chile.

Peruvian authorities say the warmer surface waters have sent anchovies and other fish to cooler waters, causing more than 5,000 pelicans and other sea birds to die of starvation.

The Peruvian National Center for the Study of El Niño says those fish have migrated southward to Chile to escape the warm waters, causing huge numbers of birds that feed on them to get caught in fishing nets.

About 2,000 gray petrels, pelicans, gannets and cormorants have been found on central Chile’s beaches during May, many suffering from broken wings and bruising.

This suggests they were caught in fishing nets, which is not uncommon. But the sheer number of dead birds is said to be unprecedented.

Wildlife advocates are complaining to authorities that fishermen are “doing nothing” when birds get caught up in their nets, leaving them to drown before throwing the bodies back into the sea.

Photo: Ministry of Health (Peru)