"Clouds of birds passing overhead obscured the sun" 
This is how Humboldt described the Peruvian sky when he arrived to the Pacific coast. We will never be able to imagine what he saw since in the last 50 years 95% of the bird population as well as the biodiversity of the sea of Chimbote have disappeared. 
The bay of Chimbote in Peru, has turned into a sewage pit, killing its biodiversity and compromising the health of its inhabitants, who are now struggling to breathe.  

The sea has run out of oxygen. Over the last years, more than 40 fishing and steel companies settled all along the El Ferrol Bay have generated 54 million cubic meters of organic and toxic wastewater with traces of lead, arsenic and steel particles, polluting the water table, drinking water and the sea. These sediments have covered the seabed with a layer of mud between 2.80m and 3.20m high, along 5 miles as local biologist Romulo Loayza reported in 2002. Many sea lions, fish and birds are found dead from asphyxia.

Sea air is noxious as it contains particles of organic and toxic waste and smells putrid. The people  of Chimbote have also been exposed to this environmental pollution. It has endangered their health causing chronic skin diseases, pulmonary fibrosis and children's asthma. According to the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment, in Chimbote, fishing factories produce sulfur dioxide emissions that are twelve times higher than those established by the World Health Organization.
Many people in the Quince de Abril neighborhood suffer from serious respiratory problems but do not have the financial means to be treated in hospitals. Nor do they receive help from their political leaders. According to them, it does not smell putrid, but smells of progress.

In the context of Covid-19, the community of Chimbote is a vulnerable population and they are waiting for justice for their life and biodiversity.

September 15, 2020, Quince de Abril neighborhood, Chimbote, Peru.
Walter Acosta (56), a fishermen stands on top of the underwater pipeline of the fishing companies that is polluting his neighborhood and life. Pipelines are all along the beach in the Quince de Abril neighborhood where many have collapsed and polluted Chimbote's groundwater. In the background, industrial fishing vessels from fishing companies. Walter, along with members of his neighborhood, have organized to complain about this environmental disaster to the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment, but they have not received any response.

September 17, 2020, Quince de Abril neighborhood, Chimbote, Peru. 
Lucas Morales Castillo (12) has asthma. He uses a nebulizer to calm his respiratory crises. When the fishing companies start their production and the bay is loaded with waste, Lucas’ respiratory problems increases. The sea air has become noxious so the children and the elderly are the most vulnerable. Doctors in Chimbote indicate that asthma is another consequence of air pollution from fishing industries settled all along the bay and advise people to relocate. However, many families have nowhere else to go.

September 14, 2020, El Ferrol Bay, Chimbote, Peru. 
A dead sea lion at the beach in El Ferrol bay. The sea is completely polluted by organic and non-organic waste from 42 fishing companies and a steel company settled around the bay. Over the last 40 year, they have generated 54 million cubic meters of organic and toxic wastewater with traces of lead, arsenic and steel particles, polluting the water table, drinking water and the sea, causing the death of sub-aquatic life. In the background, the artisanal fisherman who have to travel outside the bay to get fish safe for human consumption.

September 17, 2020, El Ferrol bay, Chimbote, Peru. 
Ulyses (58) and his son Diego Moya Salas (32), are artisan scuba divers preparing to enter the depths of El Ferrol Bay in search of the 2,80m high organic sediments that Romulo Loayza, a biologist from Chimbote found at the bottom of the sea in 2002. This environmental disaster caused the disappearance of the anchovy and sardine, putting the food supply of other species in the bay at risk, as well as affecting the food security of the population.

September 17, 2020, El Ferrol bay, Chimbote, Peru.  
Diego Moya Salas (32), an artisan scuba diver found mud composed of organic and toxic waste at the bottom of the sea of El Ferrol. This mud has a height of 2.80m to 3.20m and is found all along the bay. Together, we went to three different places in the bay and found the same putrid sludge, as Romulo Loayza, a biologist from Chimbote, reported back in 2002. The putrid smell of the mud travels with the sea air all along the coast of Chimbote, making life difficult for its inhabitants. Most of them suffer from chronic skin diseases, pulmonary fibrosis and children develop asthma.

September 17, 2020, El Ferrol bay, Chimbote, Peru.  
Diego Moya Salas (32), an artisan scuba diver found mud composed of organic and toxic waste at the bottom of the sea of El Ferrol. This mud has a height of 2.80m to 3.20m and is found all along the bay. Despite the fact that this socio-environmental disaster was reported in 2002, the Peruvian government has not taken any action on behalf of the population. Nor has it carried out an epistemological examination and the population of Chimbote, for the most part, suffers from respiratory problems.

September 17, 2020, Quince de Abril neighborhood, Chimbote, Peru. 
2 out of 28 pipelines located all along the sea in Chimbote. Annually, these discharge sources generate 2 million cubic meters of waste that go directly into the sea, affecting marine biodiversity as well as the lives of the inhabitants. The fishing companies claim that wastewater is discharged out of El Ferrol bay, 15 km further out. However, everything around is black and smells putrid. "Clouds of birds passing overhead obscured the sun," is how Humboldt described the Peruvian sky. We will never be able to imagine it since in the last 50 years 95% of the bird population as well as the biodiversity of the sea of Chimbote have disappeared. 

September 17, 2020, Quince de Abril neighborhood, Chimbote, Peru. 
Juan Jose Camarena is carrying a lung x-ray showing his mother's lung infection. The doctor told his mother that the cause of her pulmonary fibrosis is due to the air pollution she is constantly exposed to by living in the Quince de Abril neighborhood, where most of the fishing companies that pollute the environment are located. They discharge wastewater into the sea, which contains large amounts of blood. At night, the also discharge fish meal particles into the air. However, the inhabitants of Quince de Abril have nowhere else to go.

September 15, 2020, Coishco Beach, Chimbote, Peru. 
Three children playing among the pipelines of the Hayduk company and its industrial waste water effluents. Despite the great danger that the population faces by being constantly in contact with sewage, it has become familiar to coexist with this socio-environmental problem. Many children have the need to play on the beach because it is part of their identity, their parents are fishermen and they only know the sea. However, their health is at risk.

September 17, 2020, Quince de Abril neighborhood, Chimbote, Peru. 
Maria Angela Mori (64) lying in bed with several lung problems. Like her, many people in the neighborhood suffer from pulmonary fibrosis but do not have the financial means to be treated in hospitals. Nor do they receive help from their political leaders. According to them, it does not smell putrid, but smells of progress.