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Even Cocaine Vials Cause Death of Marine Animals on São Paulo's Seashore

06/05/2017 - 11h27



Turtles killed after eating empty cocaine vials, balloons, press-on nails and even condoms. A lifeless dolphin that got tangled with a flip-flop strip. An albatross that died after his beak was sawn off on purpose.

These cases illustrate the scenario that is begging to be understood better on the beaches of the north and south coastlines of São Paulo. In the past 21 months, more than 9,000 animals were found dead in cruel and unusual situations.

"We have observed that a major part of the deaths occurred after interactions with humans [fishing] and with solid residues [garbage]. We have some intriguing data," says veterinarian Andrea Maranho, the technical coordinator of Instituto Gremar.

The research, which also registers species seldom found and releases rehabilitated animals, has given the proportion of the damage inflicted by humans on sea fauna.

One of the institutes in the program even collected 75 dead animals on the same day, most of them birds of the Manx shearwater species.

The dead animals are taken and analyzed. Each institution has a necropsy center to identify the cause of the death and understand the impacts on the fauna.

The first phase of the project began in August 2015, when Petrobras, Brazil's state-owned petroleum giant, started to exploit petroleum and gas in São Paulo. As a requirement to obtain the environmental license, Petrobras had to pay for the project that assesses possible impacts of its activities.

The institutes involved in the research follow standardized methodology. On tablets researchers report the events and register the data nearly in real time on a system called Simba, which can be accessed by the public.

In the cases of animals covered by oil, probably due to petroleum, the event is registered and Ibama, the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, and Petrobras and Univali are notified automatically. "The main goal, of course, is to evaluate problems regarding animals harmed by oil, but we have had few cases so far," says Barreto.

One of the institutes in the program even collected 75 dead animals on the same day
One of the institutes in the program even collected 75 dead animals on the same day

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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