Authorities in Peru are conducting an investigation on the deaths of about 500 sea lions, whose rotting bodies were found on the Anconcillo beach in the South American nation's Santa province about 250 miles of Lima.
Police are currently looking at the complaint made by the governor of the local Samanco district who claimed that marine farmers and fishermen harvesting shellfish were responsible for the death of the creatures alleging that they have poisoned the animals.
Sea lions, which are marked by their long foreflippers, external ear flaps and ability to walk on all fours, go near Peruvian shores to hunt for seafood such as shellfish and scallops.
The decomposing bodies of both adult and pup sea lions pose health hazards so they were quickly hauled by city workers away from the beach.
Other possible causes of death are also being considered as the carnivorous animals may have died due to entanglement in fishing nets, disease, or ingestion of plastic items.
The incident marks the second time this November that hundreds of dead sea animals were found. Earlier this month, about 187 bodies of sea lions were also discovered in Peru's Piura region. The corpses of four dolphins and the dead bodies of sea turtles and dozens of pelicans were also discovered. Wildlife authorities are yet to reveal the cause of these deaths on a massive scale.
It also appears that the mass deaths of marine animals are not new in Peru. Authorities reported in October that they have found 117 dead seals. Two years ago, hundreds of dead dolphins and thousands of dead birds were also found on a beach.
Environmentalists from the Scientific Organization for the Conservation of Sea Animals, or OCRA, said that the noise and waves produced by ships that explore oil could be responsible for the deaths of the animals.
The Sea Institute of Peru (IMARPE), however, ruled out man made activities and said that the animals died of natural causes.
"It is a natural death, and also the report explains the process of natural selection. Let's say that the species that are more prepared, the dolphins that are more prepared, are those that are going to survive," Peruvian Production Minister Gladys Triveno said. "And this happens periodically. This is not the first time it has happened. And it is not only happening in Peru, but also has happened in New Zealand, in Australia, in other countries where these phenomena happen."