Dead dolphins in Mauritania (W.Africa) – 06/18/2004

  • September 30, 2013 at 11:30 pm #524

    NOUAKCHOTT – More than a hundred dolphins, eight marine turtles and
    five beaked whales have washed up dead on the windswept beaches of
    southern Mauritania in recent days, puzzling scientists and worrying
    the government.

    Experts from the West African country’s Institute of Oceanographic
    Research and Fishing visited the scene but were unable to take any
    samples because of the corpses were so decayed, the government said
    late Thursday.

    It was the third June in a row that scores of dead marine mammals
    suddenly appeared along the country’s coast, but authorities voiced
    concern at the large number of deaths this year. A total of 139
    dolphins were among the dead.

    “A special program is being drawn up and a team of specialists will
    be on the shore when the phenomenon is at its height to make real-
    time observations,” the Fisheries Ministry said in a statement. It
    did not say when the observations would begin.

    A team of scientists from Holland did laboratory tests on samples
    from corpses beached in the region last year but failed to find any
    virus responsible for killing the animals.

    “Nonetheless the Dutch scientists still favor a viral infection as
    the explanation,” the statement said.

    The waters off Mauritania’s barren coast are home to one of the
    world’s largest concentrations of fish, crustaceans and mollusks, as
    well as hammerhead and tiger sharks, dolphins, turtles, and a dozen
    species of ray.

    They are also home to Africa’s largest marine park, a 4,500 square
    mile expanse of ocean which was declared a world heritage site by
    UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,
    in 1989.

    The impoverished West African country has taken steps to protect its
    treasure trove of marine life. Some of its fishermen agreed a
    landmark deal to stop fishing shark and ray from the park earlier
    this year after four years of negotiation.

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