September 27, 2012
Last week, in the small town of La Pedrera, Uruguay a dead orca washed onto the beach. It is not common for Orcas to be found washed up on beaches; so local conservationists examined the case.
It turns out this is the third orca to wash ashore in this area recently and it appears there is a pattern. Similar to Peru, were hundreds of dolphins recently washed ashore, Uruguay is also preparing for oil extraction. The building of a deep-sea port is planned for this area.
The area, however, is an international biosphere reserve & UNESCO World Heritage Site. It includes fragile national parks and RAMSAR sites. It is also located right in the migratory path of the Southern Right Whale.
Upon examination of the orca, whale biologist Rodrigo Garcia Pingaro, Director of local NGO, Conservation of Cetaceans (OCC), discovered blood coming from the dolphin’s eyes and blowhole. It is more than likely that seismic testing by the oil industry fatally wounded the orca. After being examined the Orca was buried on the beach.
Soon, prolonged seismic testing will begin and the fear of many is that much more marine life will start washing up on these pristine Uruguayan beaches. The OCC will present a proposal before the Uruguayan government to create whale sanctuaries in all Uruguayan waters (Exclusive Economic Zone), specifically focusing on protecting cetaceans and their habitat, in order to prevent and minimize the problems vessel traffic, contamination and submarine sounds are causing. This proposal has the full support of Sea Shepherd.
The Sea Shepherd Uruguay chapter is just beginning, so far nothing more but a few volunteers. It looks as though they will be thrown in the deep end with what could become a long battle over the preservation of protected areas against one of the most destructive industries on the planet.