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800-plus dolphins found dead off Peruvian coast

LIMA, Peru — As many as 877 dolphins washed up on the coast of northern Peru, the country’s Deputy Environment Minister Gabriel Quijandria Acosta said Friday.

An investigation was underway to determine whether a viral infection of the marine morbillivirus was the cause of the mass deaths, the minister was quoted by the local Andina news agency as saying.

The dead animals began to wash up over the last few weeks on a stretch of shore from Punta Aguja to Piura, northwest of the capital Lima.

Around 80 percent of the dolphins were found in an advanced state of decomposition, which made laboratory analysis more difficult, the minister said. The results for the tests are expected next week.

Quijandria Acosta added that massive viral diseases had already been detected in Peru, Mexico and the United States. He ruled out commercial fishing, poisoning and the effects of earthquakes as possible causes.

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