Mystery Die-off at Punta de Choros, Chile? More Than 600 Sea Lions, Cormorants and Penguins Dead

May 18, 2013 – CHILE – Chilean Navy discovers more than 600 dead animals in Punta de Choros, a small fishing town north of La Serena. The bodies of sea lions, cormorants and penguins littered a seven mile stretch of beach in Punta de Choros, northern Chile on Sunday, May 19, 2013. Punta de Choros is a small fishing village of 320 people. It is home to the largest population of Humboldt penguins in the world. The site attracts thousands of tourists annually.

All animals were killed by the same incident. Autopsies report animales with fractured skulls, missing rib cages and multiple abrasions. Microbiological and chemical analysis tests are currently being run to determine if blast fishing is the cause of death.

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Two days prior the Movement in Defense of the Environment (MODEMA) reported a band of ten fishing boats off the coastline of Punta de Choros. MODEMA and other environmental groups accused the boats of blast fishing — using explosives to catch mass quantities of fish. In Chile, blast fishing is illegal.

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This isn’t the first environmental calamity at Punta de Choros. In April of last year, 350 Guayano cormorants washed up on the beach. The next month, Sernapesca reported the deaths of more than 80 sea lions.

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