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