Fishermen may have been responsible for the deaths of 70 whales discovered on a remote island beach in Chile. Passing fishermen spotted the mass of bodies on the beach of Puerto Aysen, in the island of Guaitecas, in the country's south.
Although experts have not yet been able to make it to the scene of the whale graveyard, it is thought they are pilot whales and that they have been dead for a number of months.
The National Fishing and Agriculture Association (Sernapesca), were notified of the finding via social media.
The director, Cristian Hudson, said his first port of call would be to ascertain if there was human involvement, either by fishermen catching them in nets, toxins from a boat or any other means of causing the mass deaths such as a weather phenomenon.
He added: “From the air we could see that from 50 to 70 beached whales are on a beach in the Guaitecas Archipelago. As we have not been able to attend yet, it would be very adventurous to determine possible causes of death. First we have to reach the area, take samples and carry out species by species examinations.”
From the photos the director believes that they could be pilot whales (Globicephala) and from the position and coloration of the skin he said it is clear they have been dead a couple of months already.
“It is an area exposed directly to the Pacific Ocean and therefore it depends very much on weather conditions as to when we will be able to reach it.”
The mass beaching comes after a similar occurrence at the end of 2015 when 340 whales were found dead in the Patagonia region of Chile. These were Sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis), which can measure up to 18 metres long and experts believe they died from toxins produced by an increase in microalgae due to the Red Tide weather phenomenon.
Source: Daily Mail