7 May 2012

Beach warning issued in Peru

5:14 am on 7 May 2012

The government of Peru has warned people to stay away from beaches along large stretches of the coastline while mysterious deaths of dolphins and seabirds are investigated.

At least 1200 dead birds, mostly pelicans, have washed up along the northern Pacific coast in recent weeks, after about 800 dolphins died in the same area.

The health ministry has stopped short of closing beaches, but has advised people to stay away until the cause of the deaths is established.

The agriculture ministry said preliminary tests on some dead pelicans pointed to malnourishment. Bird flu has been ruled out.

Mass deaths of pelicans along the northern coast of Peru in 1997 was blamed at the time on a shortage of feeder anchovies due to El Nino.