Subject: Info:More Die-off in Gulf of California

Michael Williamson (whe_william)
Mon, 1 Apr 1995 09:20:42

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Date: Sat, 01 Apr 1995 09:17:42 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@FLO.ORG>
Subject: Info:More Die-off in Gulf of California
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From:	SMTP%"MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET" 31-MAR-1995 20:08:26.24
Subj:	Die-off in the upper Gulf of California
Date:         Fri, 31 Mar 1995 16:17:46 -0600
Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Sender:       Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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From:         "Joel G. Ortega-Ortiz" <>
Subject:      Die-off in the upper Gulf of California
To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
   At the beginning of the year marine mammals and birds died in
the upper Gulf of California. There is variation in the numbers
reported, the official count is: 282 common dolphins, Delphinus
capensis; 25 bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus; 51 Sea lions,
Zalophus californianus; eight whales Balaenoptera acutorostrata,
B. edeni, B. physalus and Eschrichtus robustus; and 215 marine
birds from the species: Sula leucogaster, Pelecanus occidentalis,
Uria aalge.
   The General Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA)
directed the investigations in cooperation with academic institutions.
The most probable explanation is that the die-off was caused by
   A paper is been prepared for publication, some of the results follow:
-There were reports from fishermen in the area about the presence of
strange "red patches" in the sea surface during the day, and a high
blue luminescence in the nigth.
-Chemical analysis of seawater from the "red patches" detected high
cyanide concentrations (up to 280 ppm) and the presence of a compound
called NK-19 (29 ppm). The pH in this water sample was 6.9.
-Cyanide was detected, using a cualitative technique, in dolphin tissue
samples (liver) from the beached animals. In other samples analized
cyanide was not detected. However, in the first case, the sample was
taken from a recent died animal while in the second case, samples were
taken from decomposed animals.
-In beached dolphin dissections it was observed many food in the stomach.
In some cases the fish was not yet digested. This could indicate that the
death was a sudden action.
-There were groups of animals with diferent decomposition stage, for this
reason it is suspected that it was not a unique event.
   The conclusion is that a substance was released to the sea surface.
This substance was used as a marker and contained the chemical NK-19 as
a colorant. The desintegration of NK-19 in the seawater released cyanide.
Since the marker was in surface all the time, cyanide did not difuse
downward. In seawater cyanide disociate and formed Hydrocianic that
   Those animals who crossed at these moment the sea surface in the area
   It is suspected that the substance was released to the sea in several
  The precense of markers containing NK-19 in the area has been asociated
to ilegal activities (drugs traffic). In the last three weeks more than a
ton of cocaine was caugth in the area by mexican autority, even an airplane
was confiscated. This could be a serious problem of pollution due to drugs
Joel G. Ortega-Ortiz                Phone: (5) 6225706  ext 300
Instituto de Biologia, UNAM           Fax: (5) 5500164
Laboratorio de Mastozoologia
Apartado Postal 70-153
Mexico, DF   04510