Oil exploration in spotlight after whale deaths


The appearance Jan. 12 of a dead 20-ton sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) on the Montevideo shoreline ranks as one of the more memorable events of Uruguay’s stiflingly hot summer. Experts say it’s highly unusual for a sperm whale to wash up on the Uruguayan coast—much less to reach the River Plate and this nation’s capital. No definitive explanation for the whale’s death has emerged, but conservationists are asking whether the cause might be the firing of seismic airguns off Uruguay’s coast as part of oil exploration. The question recurred Jan. 30 when a second dead whale—a young six-meter (20-foot) southern right (Eubalaena australis) washed up at the community of Cerro Verde—and Army personnel buried the decomposing animal before an autopsy could take place. Green advocates argue there was not a proper examination of the sperm whale, either, but officials with the National Aquatic Resources... [Log in to read more]

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