Subject: El Nino Drives Away Fish in Peru (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Fri, 3 Apr 1998 14:14:05 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 22:11:38 -0800
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
     <MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA>
To: MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA
Subject: El Nino Drives Away Fish in Peru (fwd)

From: r.mallon1@genie.geis.com
Subject: El Nino Drives Away Fish in Peru

   SAN JUAN NATURE RESERVE, Peru (AP) -- A sickly smell of death
hangs over Peru's southern beaches, where thousands of starving sea
lions have washed ashore to die. El Nino has driven away the fish
they eat.
   Feeble sea lions bake under the desert sun in the San Juan
Nature Reserve, 310 miles south of Lima. Vultures watch patiently.
   Of the 180,000 sea lions that lived on Peru's Pacific coast
before El Nino arrived late last year, only 30,000 remain, said
Patricia Majluf, a biologist with the New York-based Wildlife
Conservation Society.
   Thousands of sea lions have migrated away from the warmer waters
brought by El Nino in search of fish, so there is no firm estimate
on the number of deaths.
   But biologists have found 3,000 dead sea lions just in the San
Juan reserve, where 9,000 to 15,000 sea lions usually live.
   All sea lion pups born so far this year at the reserve have
died, Majluf said. The parents take so long searching for the few
remaining fish that the pups starve on the beach while they are
gone.
   During normal El Ninos only the pups die and the adult females
survive to repopulate the coastline by the following year, she
said. But the severity of this El Nino has killed an unusually
large number of adult females.
   Females take five years to reach reproductive age.
   "Most of the dead sea lions we have found are adult females.
This means that for this El Nino the probability of the population
recovering rapidly is much lower," she said.



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