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877 dolphins die off Peru

SCIENTISTS and Peruvian officials are investigating the mass deaths of dolphins along the South American coast.

A total of 877 dolphin carcasses have been counted recently in the northern regions of Piura and Lambayeque, Minister Gabriel Quijandria said.

Officials have been studying possible factors in the dolphins' deaths including a virus or seismic oil exploration that has recently been carried out off northern Peru.

Carlos Yaipen, who leads the non-governmental organisation Orca, said the beached dolphins began appearing in January. Dolphins have had broken bones in their ears and some of their organs have been collapsed, suggesting that shockwaves generated by the seismic tests could have killed them, Mr Yaipen said.