- MEXICO CITY, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The decomposing bodies of 180 seals have
been discovered in the Gulf of California, adding to the mystery of large
numbers of gray whale deaths off the coast of Mexico, ecologists and newspapers
said on Sunday.
- The dead seals were found a week ago
washed up near the island of San Jorge in the northern part of the Gulf
of California, offshore from the northwestern state of Sonora.
- In addition, another dead gray whale
was found beached on the shores of the state of Sinaloa, slightly farther
south, bringing to at least 17 the numbers of the massive mammals which
have died since January, Reforma newspaper reported.
- The Group of 100 environmental body,
headed by Mexican poet Homero Aridjis, urged authorities to investigate
the deaths of the whales and the seals.
- ``Even before carrying out any analysis,
the authorities automatically declare that the deaths are due to natural
causes,'' the group complained in a statement.
- Tissue samples from the whales and seals
must be studied to establish whether human interference can be ruled out,
the environmentalists said.
- Alfredo Bermudez, an official with the
Environment Ministry in the state of Baja California Sur, recently said
the deaths of whales and seals in the Gulf of California may be caused
by Natural Killer 19.
- A florescent chemical used by drug smugglers
to mark narcotics dropped off in the water, NK-19 contains deadly cyanide.
- The Group of 100 asked authorities to
investigate whether other whale deaths in lagoons on the Baja California
peninsula's Pacific Coast might be caused by nearby saltworks.
- Weighing up to 30 metric tons and measuring
60 feet (20 metres) in length, gray whales migrate some 6,200 miles (10,000
kms) from Arctic seas to a handful of warm water lagoons on the Baja California
peninsula to breed between December and March.
- Many of the lagoons are near or in the
region's 63,000-acre (25,550 hectare) Vizcaina wildlife sanctuary, the
largest biosphere reserve in Latin America.