NewsDesk @bactiman63

There are already 4,347 specimens of common sea lions, Humboldt penguins, chungungos and smaller cetaceans that have been stranded dead on the coasts of our Chile this year, mainly in the north.

The epidemiological situation of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) by H5 subtype of Eurasian lineage has continued to spread. There are already 10 regions of the country that have registered marine fauna protected by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Law with positivity for avian influenza, with positive cases from Arica to Biobío.

To date, a total of 35 specimens of marine animals confirmed as positive for HPAI have been counted, corresponding to: 2 chungungos, 25 sea lions, 4 Humboldt penguins, 2 spiny porpoises, and now 2 Chilean dolphins recently confirmed as positive for Avian Influenza, one in the Maule region and another in Ñuble.

Sernapesca reported that they continue to register strandings of dead marine animals on the Chilean coasts. In total, 3,347 specimens of sea lions, 958 Humboldt penguins, 16 chungungos, 15 porpoises and 11 Chilean dolphins have already been reported. The northern macrozone concentrates the highest mortality of these animals, with the region of Arica and Parinacota leading the ranking with 1,486 dead marine animals, followed by Antofagasta with 752, Atacama with 623, Tarapacá with 484 and Coquimbo with 412. Meanwhile, In the southern zone, the Biobío region stands out with 200 dead marine animals, associated with the Avian Influenza contingency.

Soledad Tapia, National Director of Sernapesca indicated that “we have already recorded 2,415% more dead stranded marine animals than last year in the country, and this is attributed to the phenomenon of highly pathogenic avian influenza that we are facing not only in Chile, but also in various countries in South and North America, Europe and Asia”.

Species at risk of conservation

Sernapesca expressed concern about the situation of the Chilean dolphin, also known as the black tonina. “This is an endemic species of our country, that is, it is a small cetacean that travels almost exclusively on the coasts of Chile. It is distributed from Valparaíso to the south of Navarino Island and Cape Horn, and it is a protected species. We registered two positive cases of avian influenza in this species, which we attribute to the fact that they share a habitat with wolves, since, like these mammals, Chilean dolphins are coastal species,” said Soledad Tapia.

Another worrying situation is the conservation of the Humboldt penguin, which has already recorded 933 casualties in this avian flu contingency. “A total population of no more than 11,000 Humboldt penguins in our country is estimated, which is not very numerous, because this species has a highly localized distribution. In general, it is estimated that the Humboldt penguin population is in continuous decline, and its category is vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In this contingency we are close to losing 10% of this species, and that certainly worries us,” said the national director of Sernapesca.