Bird flu: More than 100 sea lions die in less than a week on coastline

Mar del Plata – It hurts to see such an image sea ​​lion One after another, the dead are hoisted by a huge crane and placed into mechanical shovels, which carry them deep into the beach, where the remains are eventually disposed of. It’s also heart-wrenching to see others who reach the shore exhausted or convulsed and suffer the worst possible outcome.

this Avian Influenza It shook the marine mammal’s habitat, one of the busiest junctions between the port and neighboring Kerken Harbour. So far, there have been about 100 new deaths between the two destinations in less than a week.

The disease originated in birds, but affects the ecosystems these animals share, so it doesn’t give them a chance. Those affected, with few exceptions, were sentenced to death.

Most of the bodies were piled up in the port precinct. In Mar del Plata, more than 30 sea lions were removed in less than 48 hours between the busiest area of ​​Banquina Chica for tourists and the sea lion colony on the South Breakwater. In Kerken, the worst conditions were seen in the first few days of last week, but the situation is gradually starting to normalize.

Neighbors are following advice from the National Animal Health Service (Senasa), which is behind the operation, and issued warnings for other animals that have been seen by the sea. There are those who have died, and there are others who are dying. True tragedy.

It is estimated that there are about 700 sea lions in permanent distribution on the coast of Mar del Plata alone. Most of them are located between the inner bay where the iconic yellow boat is moored and the Escollera Sur area.

An official report released in the past few hours said there were about 3,800 sea lions in this part of the Buenos Aires coast. With 100 deaths registered so far, the mortality rate due to avian influenza affecting this species is approximately 3%.

For a week, the port of Mar del Plata has been mobilizing to remove sea lion carcasses that have arrived there. Mauro V. Rizzi


The Union of Ports of the Mar del Plata region shares with Senasa methods for removing animal carcasses. It also provides wide perimeter fencing so that port visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Banquina Chica. Tourist walking is enabled, but over longer distances than usual. Even more extreme is the case of the so-called lobería, near the docks where tankers carrying fuel are moored. That’s where most of the groups are, and where the highest number of deaths is. The area is part of Escollera Sur and both vehicular and pedestrian traffic is restricted.

Manuel Baldovino, head of the delegation of Mar del Plata’s National Security Agency, confirmed that the removal and final disposal of the bodies was ongoing. “Every day we carefully move the remains for final processing,” he explained to us. nation.

Here and in Keken, people from public agencies and agencies involved in the issue formed working groups. In addition to Senasa, the Port Consortium, the Argentine Naval Province (PNA), Municipal Environment, Civil Defense, Food Science, Sanitation and scientific research institutions of the region such as the National University of Mar del Plata, Conicet and the Quequén Institute of Hydrobiology are involved.. There is also the NGO Animals Foundation Argentina, which has extensive experience in sea lion care and management.

The main focus is on community so you can avoid approaching animals. Especially those planes that land in open spaces like beaches, which continue to be fully operational and have no major restrictions at either destination.

There have been some cases this week in Varese and even in central areas such as Bristol. In these cases, fences with ropes are set up to ensure distance. Another very specific piece of advice for people is to keep pets, especially dogs, away from these dead or visibly distressed sea lions. Although there are no significant precedents, we seek to avoid any chance of cross-contamination.

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