BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Overfishing and climatic changes are the main reasons behind the rising deaths of seals and sea lions last year in Argentina as per the Mundo Marino Foundation report.
The foundation report also mentioned the key threats to the survival of marine fauna in Argentina.
“Over the course of 2020, we responded to 259 situations involving animals, including mammals, birds and marine reptiles. Of those, 85 were found dead during the monitoring process, but we still managed to attend to 174 animals,” said the foundation.
Due to the pandemic, conservationists faced a lot of problems in nursing the animals. The authorities said that instead of patrolling areas they were only responding to the situations that were reported to them.
The foundation reported that of the 174 animals they treated, 91, especially marine birds suffering from serious injuries, died.
“Of those 174 animals, only 58 managed to recover from their various ailments and were released back into their natural habitats. While 19 were attended by professionals on the beaches where they were found and did not require any further treatment before being released,” said an official of the foundation.
Six of these 58 animals are still receiving treatment at the foundation’s facilities, located in the city of San Clemente del Tuyu, Eastern Argentine province at Buenos Aires.
“The pandemic situation had an impact on our work, as we could not go to the beaches like we used to. However, despite the decrease in the number of people spending time at the beaches and other marine locations, the amount of plastic did not reduce. ‘Rubbish and face masks’ were found washed on the sea shores,” said Sergio Rodriguez Heredia, biologist in-charge, Mundo Marino’s Rescue Centre.
Scarcity of food was another key factor in affecting the marine animals, including the South American Sea Lion (Otaria Flavescens) and the South American Fur Seal (Arctocephalus Australis).
“Other species, including the Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus Magellanicus) are found malnourished. Out of 64 penguins, 35 were diagnosed with malnourishment and dehydration problems. All these animals metabolize in water through solid food, hence due to lack of food, they are not only malnourished by dehydrated as well, which has led to hypothermia and death” said Heredia.
Overfishing and climate change have caused changes in the water temperature, due to which it has become tough for predators to hunt.
“Sea lions are constantly trying to find food. They gradually get weaker when they are unable to find prey. The condition these animals are found in underlines the alterations suffered in our marine ecosystem,” said an official of the foundation. “Numerous animals are also suffering from paralysis, which is the second cause affecting marine fauna on the coast of Argentina.”
International Union for Conservation of Nature found LaPlata dolphins stranded on beaches over the course of 2020. Out of 37, only four were found alive.
(Edited by Pallavi Mehra and Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar)
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