Dolphin running as next Chilean president

SANTIAGO – Greenpeace is backing a dolphin in Chile’s upcoming presidential election to call attention to the need for strong climate leadership in the Latin American country.

Delfin Chileno “announced” its candidacy earlier this month in Santiago’s Plaza Italia. Its platform – Greenpeace – calls for government to get serious about protecting Chile’s environmental heritage and the Patagonian Seas, particularly from the threat posed by the salmon industry.

Beyond highlighting the seriousness of the environmental threats facing Chile, the campaign serves as a stinging satire on the country’s deteriorating political landscape as a whole.

“It seems that neither the political world nor the government is aware of the seriousness of the environmental threat Chile is facing today. We are among the 10 [countries most affected by] climate change and it seems that no candidate cares. We want the environmental issue to be taken seriously and become a priority,” the marine mammal said in justifying his candidacy.

The Delfín Chileno candidacy is part of Greenpeace’s Save the Seas at the End of the World campaign, which seeks to prevent salmon farming companies from expanding their operations to Magallanes Region of the Patagonia, in an effort to protect the area’s diverse ecosystem and biodiversity.

Chile is the second-largest exporter of salmon in the world and the presence of salmon farms in the country’s Patagonia region has been a topic of recent debate. Early last year, the country suffered a deadly algal bloom which killed nearly 23 million fish and resulted in economic losses of roughly $800 million.

Greenpeace attributed the algal bloom to unsustainable aquaculture practices and a lack of governmental regulation in the Patagonia region, but scientists credit the crisis to unusually high ocean temperatures brought on by El Niño, whose effects are intensifying with climate change. In both instances, the crisis illustrates the need for politicians to take immediate action to address and mitigate climate change and what the country stands to lose if it doesn’t.

Ahead of the November election, the campaign will work to secure enough signatures to get Delfín Chileno’s name on the ballot as an independent candidate, demonstrating the seriousness of the issue.