Peruvian authorities are investigating the death of 500 sea lions on a northern beach. Authorities suspect that the animals were poisoned by fishermen and marine farmers.

The Peruvian Tourism and Environment Police officers found the carcass of the sea lions from the Ancash coast, which is located north of the capital city of Lima. Authorities started the mass cleanup operations on Nov. 21 on various beaches located in Peru's Santa province, which is located about 400 km North of Lima.

Sea lions can become the target of humans because of their habit of damaging fishing nets and stealing fish. The environment police in Peru is investigating the mass deaths and they suggest that the sea lions may have died of some disease, eating of plastic or hunting by humans. Authorities are yet to confirm the exact cause of death of these animals.

The governor of Peru's Samanco district suggests that the sea lions were poisoned by fishermen or marine farmers who harvest shellfish. The sea lions approach the shores on a regular basis, on the lookout for scallops and other seafood to eat.

Authorities say the rotting corpses cause a health hazard for humans as well.

This is not the first time that carcasses of sea lions have been found on the shore in such a high number. Authorities found bodies of about 200 sea lions in the Piura region, which is located further north of Lima. Along with sea lions, the environment police also found bodies of a few dolphins, pelicans and sea turtles, which has led wildlife officials to believe that the animals were killed due to human intervention.

Dead bodies of a few hundred dolphins were also found along the Peruvian coastline in 2012. Orca, an environmental group, claimed the increased pressure and noise caused by explosions associated with oil exploration in the area caused the mass deaths of dolphins.

However, government agencies reported that oil exploration efforts had nothing to do with the deaths. The report also suggested that the dolphins did not die due to an infection and it indicated that the mammals died due to natural reasons.

The latest incident relating to the death of 500 sea lions, which included juvenile and adults, is being investigated by authorities who are yet to confirm the exact cause of death.

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