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“We saw mass deaths along Peru’s entire coast, also associated with high sea temperatures. Pelicans, cormorants, Peruvian boobies and guanay cormorants died,” he said.

The dolphin die-off, by contrast, remains a mystery.

Hung told The Associated Press that lab tests have so far ruled out a number of bacterial infections as the cause of the dolphin deaths, though other tests remain.

Because the dolphins were so decomposed, Hung said, it was impossible to rule out a theory promoted by the sea mammal conservation group Orca, which initially publicized the dolphin die-off. Its director, Carlos Yaipen, says he believes the cetaceans were killed by shock waves generated by acoustic “explosions” used to test the sea bed for oil deposits.

Yaipen says he found dolphins with broken bones in their ears, internal hemorrhages and some of their organs collapsed. He described his findings at a congressional hearing on Tuesday, saying he encountered the first batch on Feb. 12.

The government agency in charge of the investigation, the Peruvian Sea Institute, or IMARPE, did not provide an explanation for the delay in obtaining dolphin samples for testing.

“At the moment I have no answer,” agency spokesman Vicente Palomino said Tuesday.

Government officials have said they have no evidence the dolphin deaths are related to seismic oil exploration work that was carried out off northern Peru between Feb. 8 and April 8 by the Houston-based company BPZ Energy, and the company says it doesn’t believe the deaths were related.

Hundreds of dolphins have at times turned up dead on beaches in various parts of the world, though the number in northern Peru was particularly high.

Scientists have said that agrochemical runoff from rivers or heavy metals from upstream mining could be potential factors in the Peru dolphin deaths. However, IMARPE’s director, Raul Castillo, said Tuesday that testing had ruled out heavy metals, pesticides and algae-related biotoxins.

“One of the things we do know is just how fragile we have discovered our ecosystems have become,” said Sue Rocca, a U.S.-based marine biologist with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. She said blooms of algae or other biotoxins can affect marine mammals and could be involved.

Juan Carlos Sueiro, an economist who has worked in government and with public interest groups on coastal protection, said the die-offs highlight Peru’s general lack of readiness for emergencies of this sort.

“The resources are scarce and in a situation like this there is no procedure or team in place,” he said.

A larger problem, Sueiro added, is Peru’s incomplete monitoring of the health of its coastal waters.

Beaches are monitored during the summer by the Health Ministry, and bays and other areas crucial to the fishing industry are checked by IMARPE, an agency of the fisheries division of Peru’s Production Ministry.

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