Massive Death Connections PT 9/Aug 24, 2011-Jan 2012
Jan 2, 2012-The inhabitants of Troms could hardly believe their eyes on the morning of New Year’s Eve, a very large amount, an estimated 10 to 20 tons of dead herring washed up on the beach, writes Northern Lights. Tromsø city is the ninth largest urban area in Norway by population. The city is warmer than most other places located on the same latitude, due to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream which originates at the tip of Florida. Various theories abound for the incident but no one knows for sure what’s happened in the popular hiking area in Nordreisa municipality. However, various theories have been tossed around, explains Jan-Petter Jorgensen (44), who stumbled upon the mass death in sight on the beach with his dog Molly. People say that something similar happened in the 80′s, and there is speculation among others on the river which flows into the ocean behind a promontory on the site, may have had something to do with it. Maybe the fish have been caught in a deprived oxygen environment, and then died of fresh water? Jorgensen estimates each individual fish to be of 100-150 grams, and that the total might be about up to 20 tons. Now he’s worried about what might happen if no one comes and removing carcasses.
Jan 1, 2012-Ancient Mayan legend says that 2012 will bring the end of the world. A small Arkansas town might have shown the first example of that as approximately 5,000 blackbirds dropped dead from the sky last night in the early hours of the new year. As if the incident was not strange enough, it is the second time in two years that the birds have fallen as the calendar year change
- Dec 28, 2011-Scientists in Alaska are investigating whether seals are being killed by radiation from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska’s arctic coastline since July either injured or killed by a mysterious disease which biologists first thought was a virus. But the bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the seals’ fur coats may have been caused by radiation from the stricken nuclear plant.
- Dec 24, 2011-A truly jumbo shrimp is causing big worries about the future of the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem. The Asian tiger prawn, a foot-long crustacean with a voracious appetite and a proclivity for disease, has invaded the northern Gulf, threatening prized native species, from crabs and oysters to smaller brown and white shrimp. Though no one is sure what the ecological impact will be, scientists fear a tiger prawn takeover could knock nature’s balance out of whack and turn a healthy, diverse marine habitat into one dominated by a single invasive species. “It has the potential to be real ugly,” said Leslie Hartman, Matagorda Bay ecoystem leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “But we just do not know.” The tiger prawns from the western Pacific – which can grow up to 13 inches long – have been spreading along the Gulf Coast since 2006, but their numbers took off this year. Shrimpers pulled one from Texas waters for the first time in June.
- Dec 29, 2011-Whale watchers are saying that migrating gray whales are swimming through Southern California waters in record numbers this winter. The Los Angeles Times said on Wednesday that whale watchers at Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes have recorded a record 163 sightings in December so far, which is the most that have been logged at this location in 28 years. At this time last year, observers logged 26 gray whales. The previous record saw 133 of the mammals in 1996. “I’ve seen some pretty good years but never anything like this,” Joyce Daniels, a volunteer in the whale census, told the LA Times. “We had whales everywhere. So many I was having trouble figuring out which whale was which,” she said. “It’s a real adrenaline rush to have so many whales.” Over 20,000 gray whales migrate each year from the arctic to Baja California, where females give birth. The mammals then migrate back north for the spring weather. California’s coast is not just accustomed to only gray whales. Last spring, hundreds of blue whales were spotted in the area. Humpback whales have also been seen off the Californian coast. Researchers say they hope this means things in the whaling world are going good and the populations are becoming more robust.
- Dec 18, 2011-More than a hundred Beluga whales are trapped in frigid water surrounded by ice floes in the Chukotka region of Russia’s Far East, and risk death unless they are rescued soon, local authorities said. The flock of gentle whales was trapped in the Sinyavinsky Strait off the Bering Sea near the village of Yanrakynnot, a statement from the Chukotka Autonomous Region said, with local governor Roman Kopin calling for the government to send an icebreaker to the region to try and free them from their soon-to-be icy graveyard. Local fishermen reported that the whales were concentrated in two relatively small ice holes, where they can at least breathe freely for the time being. But the odds of them being able to swim back out to open water are slim due to the vast fields of ice over the strait. The statement said the whales risk becoming starved if they cannot be rescued soon. And with the advancement of the ice floes, the space where they are concentrated is growing smaller and smaller. “Given the lack of food and the speed at which the water is freezing, all the animals are threatened with exhaustion and death,” it added. A Russian icebreaker was just two days sail away from the area, the Chukotka government noted. It could easily make the trip in time to save the whales, it added.
- Dec 20, 2011-A flu virus similar to one found in birds but not previously detected in harbor seals was the cause of five of 162 recent deaths of the marine animals off the New England coast, federal and state officials said yesterday. The influenza virus, known as H3N8, appears to have a low risk for transmission to humans, they said. But officials are urging the public to be cautious about approaching stranded seals to reduce the potential risk of spreading the infection to people or their unleashed dogs. “Influenza that poses a risk to people are human strains of influenza. . . . but there have been documented cases in people of transmission from other species,” said Dr. Catherine M. Brown, public health veterinarian for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Other viruses that caused global disease outbreaks in years past, such as avian and swine flu, jumped from birds and pigs to humans, usually through the animals’ caretakers, Brown said. She said there has been an increasing number of instances in the past decade of flu viruses jumping from one species to another.
- Dec 17, 2011-The death of 4,000 crows across the state in three months prompted a high-level joint team of the United Nations and Union government to arrive in Jharkhand on Thursday to probe why the phenomenon was limited to home scavengers, and spurred the state to issue a blanket alert to all the 24 districts, zoos and parks. A team comprising H.R. Khanna, project co-ordinator of Food and Agriculture Organisation, United Nations, and A.B. Negi, assistant commissioner of the Centre’s animal husbandry department, which reached Ranchi on Thursday, is currently in Jamshedpur. Earlier, tests at Jamshedpur – considered to be the epicentre of crow deaths – revealed conflicting results. National Institute of Virology, Pune, drew a blank, the state animal husbandry department dithered about citing a specific virus and Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly said H5N1, one of the deadliest avian virus strains, was the culprit.
- Dec 14, 2011-St. George – Thousands of migratory birds died on impact after apparently mistaking a Wal-Mart parking lot and other areas of southern Utah for bodies of water and plummeting to the ground in what one wildlife expert called the worst downing she’s ever seen. Crews went to work cleaning up the dead birds and rescuing the survivors after the creatures crash-landed in the St. George area Monday night. By Tuesday evening, volunteers had rescued more than 2,000 birds, releasing them into nearby bodies of water. “They’re just everywhere,” said Teresa Griffin, wildlife program manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resource’s southern region. “It’s been nonstop. All our employees are driving around picking them up, and we’ve got so many people coming to our office and dropping them off.” Officials say stormy conditions probably confused the flock of grebes, a duck-like aquatic bird likely making its way to Mexico for the winter. The birds tried to land in a Cedar City Wal-Mart parking lot and elsewhere.
- Dec 15, 2011-A strange sight in Bloomfield where 40 to 50 dead birds were found along U.S. 64. Some of the black and speckled birds were lying on their backs with their small feet sticking up in the air, and at least one was missing its head. The Daily-Times reports about 30 dead birds were north of the highway and about 20 additional piles of flattened feathers were on the highway. Wildlife biologist John Kendall with the Bureau of Land Management investigated the cluster. He thinks they likely roosted in shrubs north of the highway Wednesday night and died when they flew into the side of a large truck driving the highway late Wednesday or early Thursday. It’s also unlikely the birds died from environmental causes because they were so close together when they died.
- Dec 15, 2011-Altogether 250 crows have died in Hazaribagh district in the last 48 hours following an undiagnosed disease. District animal husbandry officer Yamuna Prasad said the birds died at Bishnugarh and Katkumsandi blocks, and their faeces would be sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bhopal and Indian Institute of Virology, Pune for tests. “After getting the reports we have deputed a team to create awareness among the villagers at every 5 km with necessary instructions like not to handle the dead crows without gloves and bury the birds immediately and using masks,” he said. According to Satya Prakash, the state coordinator of the Indian Bird Conservation Network, said tests on crow deaths in Jamshedpur and Bokaro have been found to be H5N-1.
- Dec 9, 2011-For the third time in two weeks a green sea turtle – a prehistoric species that’s 150 million years old and that’s now threatened – has washed up on B.C.’s shores, a rare appearance that’s baffling ocean experts. The sub-adult male was spotted by a visitor on Combers Beach in Pacific Rim National Park on Wednesday, the Vancouver Aquarium said Friday. The giant turtle – females can weigh up to 200 kgs — was in poor shape and wasn’t expected to survive, said Dr. Dennis Thoney on Friday at the aquarium, where the turtle was transported for an examination. “It’s just too far gone,” he said. “If they’re on the shore, that’s usually an indication there’s something wrong with them.”
- Dec 3, 2011-One of the world’s worst invasive species, the Argentine ant, is mysteriously disappearing from New Zealand. The Argentine ant poses a huge risk to horticulture and is a threat to native species. They attack birds, have been known to eat lizards in New Zealand and the World Conservation Union classed them as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species. The small, brown insects were first found in New Zealand in 1990 and have spread throughout the North Island, usually attracted to warm climates like Northland and Hawke’s Bay. Their colonies reach as far south as Christchurch. But, the population has just started dying off, though the reason for their deaths is unclear, Victoria University associate professor Phil Lester said. Lester and masters student Meghan Cooling concluded the species naturally collapses after about 10 to 20 years. The pair assessed about 150 sites throughout the country that have been populated by the ants.
- Nov 30, 2011-Gulfport, Mississippi — A stranded dolphin found alive in the marsh near Fort Morgan, Alabama continues to improve, said Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies at Gulfport. Another dead dolphin, the fifth in the past week, was found at Waveland on Monday, he said. “They are all about the same age, which is the group of animals that would have been born earlier this year in February and March,” Solangi said. “They were less than a year old and still dependent on their mothers.” All the dead dolphins were about 5½-feet long, he said.
- Nov 26, 2011-It’s a mystery: Something is killing mullet in Estero Bay, but nobody knows what. Katie McFarland, an FGCU graduate student, first saw large numbers of dead mullet floating in the bay and washed up along the shoreline Friday. Saturday morning, McFarland took another trip onto the bay to take water samples and saw hundreds of mullet between FGCU’s Vester Field Station and New Pass.
- Nov 21, 2011-Mexican officials have unveiled plans to slaughter some 50,000 wild boars that have crossed the border from the United States and now threaten agriculture in Mexico. The Ministry of Environment in Chihauha state said some 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of farmland in the border town of Ojinaga have been affected by the large number of feral pigs that have come from Presidio County, Texas. “We must get rid of these European wild boars because they sleep overnight on US soil during the day and cross over to the Mexican side to feed,” Ignacio Legarreta, a state official, told local media.
- Nov 16, 2011-91 WHALES! Rescuers have been unable to save the last surviving sperm whale from separate mass-strandings in Australia and New Zealand that have seen 91 whales die since the weekend. Though whale strandings are relatively common in both countries, the past few days have been particularly tough for conservation authorities. In all, 24 sperm whales and two minke whales died in a stranding on and around remote Ocean Beach in Tasmania. In an equally remote New Zealand location, the tip of Farewell Spit in the South Island, 65 pilot whales died. Australian authorities were trying to guide the last surviving sperm whale to open water from Macquarie Harbour when the whale died late Wednesday. They had earlier managed to free two sperm whales from the harbor, which is located near Ocean Beach. “We did everything possible to save this whale,” said Liz Wren, a spokeswoman for the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. She said the whale appeared to be swimming strongly before it died at about 7 p.m.
- Nov 15, 2011-Half of a pod of sixty-five pilot whales stranded on Farewell Spit in Golden Bay have died. The surviving 34 are stuck in shallow water, between two and three kilometres offshore. Department of Conservation (DOC) Golden Bay area manager John Mason said there was nothing that could be done for them, other than to hope they manage to swim away on the next high tide. “They’re in a very remote location and they’re in a very dangerous location to try and rescue them because to rescue a whale you have to stay with it until it can swim and to do that the water level is usually between your waste and your chest. Once you’ve let the whale go you then have to head back to the beach yourself, which in this case would be two to three kilometres away, so we don’t rescue them in those situations. “All we can do is monitor them. I’m not optimistic that they’re going to get back to sea but we certainly wish them well and hope that they make it.”
- Nov 17, 2011-Thousands of flesh-eating piranhas have infested a beach popular with tourists in western Brazil and have bitten at least 15 unwary swimmers. Officials in the city of Caceres in Mato Grosso state say this is the first time they have had a problem with piranhas at the Daveron beach on the Paraguay river, where the aggressive fish began schooling about two weeks ago. “People have got to be very careful. If they’re bitten, they’ve got to get out of the water rapidly and not allow the blood to spread,” firefighter Raul Castro de Oliveira told Globo TV’s G1 website yesterday. Elson de Campos Pinto, 22, was bitten on Sunday. “I took a dip in the river and when I stood up, I felt pain in my foot,” Pinto told G1. “I saw that I had lost the tip of my toe. I took off running out of the river, afraid that I would be further attacked because of the blood. I’m not going back in for a long time.” City officials said the beach will remain open because it’s an important draw for tourists in Brazil’s Pantanal region, known for its ecotourism.
- Nov 7, 2011-SONIC BOOM-It seems that this past year has been filled with all types of strange weather patterns all across the nation. Between droughts, flooding, tornadoes and rare earthquakes many located in regions not known for seismic activity for 50-150 years. This past week alone reports have been flowing in from worried residents throughout Oklahoma, Georgia, Tennessee,& Texas. The residents reported they heard loud booming sounds while the earth beneath them rattled around .Radar tracking captured birds or bugs fleeing on as the tremors occurred. Are these tremors the result caused by seismic waves ? You ask what are seismic waves ? Seismic waves are waves of energy that travel through the earth, and are a result of an earthquake, explosion, or a volcano that imparts low-frequency acoustic energy. Many other natural and anthropogenic sources create low amplitude waves commonly referred to as ambient vibrations. Seismic waves are studied by seismologists and geophysicists. Seismic wave fields are measured by a seismograph, geophone, hydrophone (in water), or accelerometer. The propagation velocity of the waves depends on density and elasticity of the medium. Velocity tends to increase with depth, and ranges from approximately 2 to 8 km/s in the Earth’s crust up to 13 km/s in the deep mantle.
- Nov 12, 2011-There has been a mass stranding of 20 sperm whales on Tasmania’s west coast, with only four whales stuck in shallow water believed to still be alive. The pod was discovered on Ocean Beach near Strahan early Saturday morning, but authorities say conditions in the water are too dangerous for rescuers to intervene. Nearby, rescuers were making progress in freeing another eight sperm whales stranded on a sand bar in Macquarie Harbour, about four kilometres south of the beach. Chris Arthur from the Parks and Wildlife Service says four of them were swimming freely, with a fifth joining them later in the afternoon. Authorities are urging people to stay clear of the channel between Hells Gate and Table Head.
- Nov 9, 2011-An unprecedented number of fish with red spots, lesions and parasites, as well as dead dugongs and turtles, have been found this year. Fishermen and conservationists blame the state of the marine life on dredging to widen Gladstone Harbour to accommodate carrier ships servicing the booming liquefied natural gas and coal seam gas industries. But the Gladstone Port Corporation does not believe the dredging is causing the disease in fish, and authorities say last year’s wet summer may be a factor in the poor health of the harbour. Water testing shows a number of sites within the harbour exceeded national guidelines for aluminium, copper and chromium. Experts say the levels pose a minimal risk to marine life; however, the Queensland Government has appointed an independent scientific panel to conduct more research.
- Oct 29, 2011-A virus that devastated farm-raised salmon populations in the Atlantic may be appearing among wild fish in the Pacific, a potentially devastating threat to fisheries there. Scientists reported on Friday that the virus, infectious salmon anemia, had been found for the second time among wild salmon in British Columbia. That could suggest that the disease, now found among farmed salmon in Atlantic waters, has made the jump to wild fish populations, The New York Times reports. There is no cure.
- Oct 31, 2011-A University of Tennessee researcher helped confirm the link between the fungus Geomyces destructans and the dropping bat population. Over a million bats were killed in North American in 2006, and little has been done to try and save them due to lack of evidence for the alleged killer. However, a new study has discovered that the fungus Geomyces destructans is the agent of White-noise Syndrome (WNS), which is the fungal disease decimating the bat population. The fungus has been thought to be the likely culprit because the skin lesions found on the bats are associated with colonization of the fungus. “Many assumed that fungal infections in mammals only occur if some other pathogen has already weakened the immune system,” Justin Boyles, a post-doctoral research associate in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said in a statement. “Additionally, the recent discovery that G. destructans commonly colonizes the skin of bats in Europe with no major die-offs generated speculation that other unidentified factors are the primary cause of WNS.”
- Oct 28, 2011-Gulfport — So far in October, 14 dead dolphins have washed ashore in Mississippi and Alabama. Three were found Friday in Mississippi — one on Deer Island, one floating 200 yards off the beach at Cowan Road and one on the beach in Long Beach. “Generally, you don’t see this in October,” said Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. “This is not normal.”
- Oct 22, 2011-The Ministry of Natural Resources is investigating after hundreds of birds and fish washed up on the shores of Georgian Bay near Wasaga Beach. Police say that the wildlife is scattered along a nearly three-kilometre stretch north of Wasaga Beach. “You just want to cry,” resident Faye Ego told CTV Toronto. Locals said they noticed some dead fish on the beach a few weeks ago and a few dead birds earlier in September. “But now this is just multiplied,” Ego said, adding that the situation is “absolutely devastating.” Ontario Provincial Police Const. Peter Leon said that the number of dead birds is estimated to be between 5,000 and 6,000.
- Oct 28, 2011-Gulf Dolphins-Several reports out today detail the bacterial infection behind a string of dolphin deaths that have occurred since last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Brucellosis, a bacterial infection, has been identified in at least five of 21 tests of stranded dolphins. A representative of the National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told CNN that the dolphins could be dying because the bacteria has become more lethal, or it could simply “be more severe, because the dolphins are more susceptible to infection.” In either scenario, the root cause seems to be severe environmental stress, which could have been brought on by the BP oil spill. Teri Rowles, coordinator of the National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, told the St. Petersburg Times’ Craig Pittman that the oil “could have impaired the dolphins’ ability to respond to the bacterial infection.” Investigators, however, still haven’t officially pinpointed the cause.
- Oct 26, 2011-WEIRD!-A day after 136 students collapsed at a Kompong Cham high school while standing at attention as punishment for not showing deference to the national flag, the local police chief offered a unique explanation for the mass fainting – trees. “According to the hospital’s analysis, the reason why the students fainted is [because of] the huge tree in the school compound and the farmland surrounding the school, which absorbed the oxygen,” said Heng Meng, police chief of Chamkar Leu district, adding that the punishment could not be blamed as one of the teachers “also [had difficulty breathing] and felt dizzy”. Heng Phal Rith, school director of Bosknor high school in Chamkar Leu district, also cited the hospital’s report in blaming the incident on a lack of oxygen, adding that he “did not punish the students. It is just a rumour”.
- Oct 17, 2011-The apparent death of 30-40 birds has workers at one Myrtle Beach hotel wondering what’s to blame. Ocean Forest Resort Hotel Security Guard Brandon Nelson said between 30 and 40 birds of various breeds fell from the sky around 2 Sunday morning while he was patrolling the building. “The birds were just landing with a plop, some of them chirped and squirmed for a few minutes before they died. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Nelson said. Nelson’s mother, Sarah Allen, stopped at the hotel to visit her son during his shift when she says one of the birds hit her in the shoulder as it fell from the sky.
- Oct 20, 2011-Seattle – The scientist in Canada got the results from a respected lab and held a news conference. The ice and bait man at a fish processor in Sitka, Alaska, heard the news on Facebook. Vardon Tremain read it in the newspaper while working on his trolling boat docked here in Salmon Bay. More scientists in Washington started talking, and 24 hours later everyone is asking more questions. As word spread that infectious salmon anemia, a deadly virus that has devastated farmed fish in Chile, had been found for the first time in prized wild Pacific salmon, there remained much uncertainty about the finding and what its potential impact could be. So far it has been found in just two wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia and not in an active state. Nevertheless the reaction from fishermen has echoed that of some scientists: this is the last thing salmon need. “On top of everything else, that would just be murder here,” said Mr. Tremain, aboard his 40-foot boat, Heidi, at Fishermen’s Terminal here.
- Oct 14, 2011-A mysterious disease, possibly a virus, has killed scores of ring seals along Alaska’s coast, according to local and federal agencies. The diseased seals have been beaching themselves on the Arctic coastline since July, with numbers picking up in subsequent months, biologists with the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management and other agencies said on Thursday. About 100 of the diseased animals have been found near Barrow, the nation’s northernmost community, and half of those have died, the borough biologists reported. Elsewhere in the sprawling borough, villagers have reported 146 ringed seals hauling themselves onto beaches, and many of those were diseased, the biologists said. Ringed seals rarely come ashore, spending most of the year in the water or on floating ice, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service.
- Oct 12, 2011-Gulf Coast-Dauphin Island, Alabama — A dolphin carcass, bloated and violet in the morning sun, was found on Fort Morgan early Saturday, bringing the number lost since the BP oil spill to more than 400. Three other dolphins have washed up in Alabama in the past week, including a pregnant female on Dauphin Island and a mother and calf pair on Hollingers Island in Mobile Bay. “We should be seeing one (death) a month at this time of year,” said Ruth Carmichael, a Dauphin Island Sea Lab scientist tasked with responding to reports of dead dolphins. “We’re getting one or more a week. It’s just never slowed down.”
- Oct 12, 2011-Truro – Biologists say for the second time this week a pilot whale has died after washing up on a Massachusetts beach. An official with the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s marine mammal research and rescue team tells the Cape Cod Times an 11-foot long adult whale was reported alive on a sandbar at Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro at about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The mammal was dead by the time rescue crews arrived at the scene. Three or four other pilot whales were spotted swimming offshore when crews arrived. A necropsy is expected Wednesday. Another pilot whale died after beaching in Duxbury on Monday. It’s not clear whether the two whale deaths are connected.
- Oct 13, 2011-A large wandering albatross is among the latest victims in the soaring wildlife death toll caused by oil pollution from the stricken Rena off Tauranga’s coast. Rescuers are now moving larger animals from the area to prevent them being poisoned by the oil. Cold weather has worsened the effects of the oil on seabirds. Many penguins, petrels and shearwaters have frozen to death because the oil blocked their ability to insulate themselves against cold.
- Oct 12, 2011-A mysterious and potentially widespread disease is thought to have contributed to the deaths of dozens of ringed seals along Alaska’s Arctic coast. Scores more are sickened, some so ill that skin lesions bleed when touched. The animals are an important subsistence food, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has proposed listing them as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In July, biologists with the North Slope Borough’s Department of Wildlife Management began receiving reports of ringed seals hauled out on beaches, an unusual behavior since the animals usually prefer the water or ice. Since then, they’ve found at least 100 seals with telltale mangy hair and skin lesions, mostly while traveling by four-wheeler along 30 miles of Beaufort and Chukchi sea coastline outside Barrow. At least 46 of those seals have been found dead, and experts aren’t sure if the disease is killing them or if other infections and polar bears are proving fatal once the seals become feeble.
- Oct 10, 2011-Biosecurity Queensland’s chief vet says a toxin is the mostly likely cause of the deaths of 21 horses on a single property in the state’s south. The animals started dying late last week at Kooralbyn, in the Gold Coast hinterland. Dr Rick Symons says hendra virus has been ruled out and blood tests from ill and dead horses have shown nothing else. Authorities are now waiting for the results of test on samples taken during autopsies.
- Oct 8, 2011-Two oil-drenched penguins have been found washed up on Bay of Plenty beaches today, covered in the oil spilling from container ship Rena on Astrolabe reef. The two blue penguins were found covered in oil on Papamoa and Little Waihi Beach this afternoon and have been taken to a specialist treatment facility in Te Maunga. Wildlife Response Centre Director Brett Gartrell is attending to two blue penguins stricken by the oil and says to be helping two birds this soon highlights the coming danger.
- Oct 5, 2011-Federal officials have joined an investigation into the mysterious deaths of young harbor seals on beaches across three New England states as the number of dead seals rose to 49. Seals began washing up on the beaches of northern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and southern Maine last week, said Maggie Mooney-Seus, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s office in Gloucester, Massachusetts “Some of them have been decomposed,” she told Reuters on Wednesday. “We’re hoping we’re not going to see a lot more. We don’t know at this point what’s caused it.” The densest cluster of seal deaths has been along New Hampshire’s 18-mile (30-km) coast, where 17 seal carcasses have been recovered since Friday, said Tony Lacasse, a spokesman for the New England Aquarium in Boston. The aquarium has conducted autopsies on three of the least-decomposed seals and found that they all had an adequate layer of blubber to survive.
- Oct 3, 2011-Following the discovery of 17 dead dolphins in Ujung Kulon, residents of Parangtritis and Depok Beach, Yogyakarta witness the same phenomenon. A number of dolphins were found dead and stranded. “The officers discovered dead fish on the shore not far from the search and rescue (SAR) command post of Parangtritis,” said Taufik M Faqi, Secretary of the SAR Parangtritis team, Bantul, Yogyakarta. Taufik stated that as the dolphins were in terrible condition, the SAR officers buried them. “Last Sunday, around 9 a.m. we buried the dead dolphins,” he said.
- Aug 2, 2011-Polar Bears-If polar bears had any clue of the scale of speculation about the extinction threat they are facing due to climate change, they would have probably said, “you’re kidding, right?” If you think statistics are a pointer towards the growth or decline of a species, it will be interesting to have a look at the estimates published in a 2008 report by U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the polar bear population is currently at 20,000 to 25,000 bears, up from as low as 5,000-10,000 bears in the 1950s and 1960s. A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain noted that the polar bear populations ‘may now be near historic highs,’” it read. J. Scott Armstrong of The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Kesten C. Green of Business and Economic Forecasting, Monash University; and Willie Soon of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, published their findings in 2008, arguing that the claims of declining population among polar bears are not based on scientific forecasting principles.
- Sept 30, 2011-Micco – Florida officials are abuzz as to how millions of honey bees were killed in Brevard County. Several beekeepers in the county have reported lost colonies this week. Charles Smith of Smith Family Honey Company told Stuart News Thursday he lost 400 beehives. He says the bees appeared to have been poisoned. “I’ll never get completely compensated for this unless someone handed me 400 beehives,” Smith told Stuart News. “I lost the bees, the ability to make honey and the ability to sell the bees.” Smith told Florida Today that he lost $150,000 from the incident. State officials are testing the bees to determine what type of chemicals contributed to their deaths.
Experts say pesticides might be behind the lost beehives.
- Sept 29, 2011-Rare White Whale-Believed to be just a few weeks old, the baby humpback was seen at Cid Harbour in the famous reef’s Whitsunday Islands area by local man Wayne Fewings, who was with his family in a boat when he spotted a whale pod. “We were just drifting when I noticed the smaller whale in the pod was white. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I just grabbed my camera,” Fewings said. “Then the white calf approached my boat, seeming to want to check us out. I was just so amazed at seeing this animal, it made me think how truly astounding the Great Barrier Reef is,” he added of the sighting on Saturday.
- Oct 1, 2011-Crazy Texas Ants-It sounds like a horror movie: Biting ants invade by the millions. A camper’s metal walls bulge from the pressure of ants nesting behind them. A circle of poison stops them for only a day, and then a fresh horde shows up, bringing babies. Stand in the yard, and in seconds ants cover your shoes. It’s an extreme example of what can happen when the ants – which also can disable huge industrial plants – go unchecked. Controlling them can cost thousands of dollars. But the story is real, told by someone who’s been studying ants for a decade. “Months later, I could close my eyes and see them moving,” said Joe MacGown, who curates the ant, mosquito and scarab collections at the Mississippi State Entomological Museum at Mississippi State University. He’s been back to check on the hairy crazy ants. They’re still around. The occupant isn’t.
- Sept 30, 2011-Dead Bees-Millions of dead bees mysterious turn up in the southern part of Brevard County. Officials with the Department of Agriculture are trying to figure out what caused them to die. They have gathered samples of the dead bees and send them to the state lab to be tested. Officials with the state told News 13 over the phone that it appears some type of aerial application of a pesticide might have been sprayed on the area. However, they said it is too early in the investigation to know for sure. Two beekeepers were affected and this mystery is a huge loss for both of them. Fellsmere beekeeper Charles Smith said the dead bees were supposed to be bound for California to help pollinate almond trees.
- Sept 28, 2011-Multi-million dollar judicial inquiry expected to offer few solutions to declining fish stocks. As the last of this year’s sockeye salmon battle up the Fraser River along the southern outskirts of Vancouver, Canada, a rather longer battle about the fishes’ fate is drawing to a close in a staid courtroom downtown. More than 4.5 million salmon have surged along the Fraser this year, returning to spawn before dying. But that is far fewer than the sockeye runs of 20 years ago, when the river was the world’s single largest source of Pacific salmon, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars each year to British Columbia’s economy. Back in 2009, when just 1.5 million out of a forecasted 10.6 million fish returned to the river, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for a judicial inquiry into the missing salmon and appointed Bruce Cohen, Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, to preside over the mammoth task. The last of the inquiry’s 128 witnesses are taking to the stand this month. Yet scientists and the public are questioning whether the Cohen Commission, which has cost an estimated CAN$25 million (US$24.4 million), has been a waste of time.
- Sept 28, 2011-A young whale which died after it beached in the Humber Estuary is probably of a species rarely found stranded on the British coast, conservationists have said. Experts examining the 33ft (10m) long animal, which died about 875 yards (800m) from the shoreline, say they are 95% sure it is a female sei whale. The animal was trapped in shallow water near the East Yorkshire village of Skeffling, on the north bank of the River Humber. Andy Gibson, of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said Sei whale strandings were very rare. He said there had only been three strandings of this species in UK waters in the last 20 years. ”It is sad. It was in shallow water of about 1.2m (4ft) to 1.6m (5.25ft), making contact with the bottom,” Mr Gibson said.
- Sept 26, 2011-10 Tons of Dead Fish-The Environmental Protection Agency in the Western Region is investigating the source of a pollutant which has killed nearly 10 tons of fish in the Butre Lagoon in Takoradi. Though details remain sketchy, the Agency is not ruling out the possibility of a chemical pollution as officials await laboratory results to ascertain the cause of this serious environmental breach. Joy News’ Western Regional correspondent, Kwaku Owusu Peprah reports that some residents of the area who consumed the dead fishes are said to be suffering from some serious stomach upsets.
- Sept 25, 2011-Piranhas?Authorities in a state in Brazil’s northeast are scrambling to take the fright and the bite off the beach after piranhas sunk their teeth into about 100 beachgoers, UOL Noticias reported. The problem – rather fearsome given piranhas’ horror-movie teeth and ability to sink them into human flesh – has been the biggest at the main beach area in Piaui state; authorities said they need to act fast to reduce a piranha overpopulation situation. Last weekend, at least 100 bathers were treated at the hospital in Jose de Freitas not far from Terezina, Piaui’s capital, after being bitten on the heels or toes at the local beach. “Since they have no predators, piranhas have started attacking people on the beach,” said Romildo Mafra, a local environment official. Environmental officials so far have added tilapia to the piranhas’ local food chain hoping to quell some of the predators’ hunger.
- Sept 20, 2011-Mystery Weed-A mystery weed has been washing up on Hervey Bay beaches this week, and no-one seems to know what it is. The Department of Environment and Resource Management and the Fraser Coast Regional Council were both scratching their corporate heads over the unknown flotsam, unable at this stage to even say whether it is a type of seaweed or algae. The weed appears to be clumps of soft, dark green strands about 10-30cm in length, and members of the public have told the Chronicle about an awful smell it makes after being left behind in the sun at low tide. The council also confirmed they had received a complaint from the public about the algae/seaweed.
- Sept 20, 2011-Arkansas-Wildlife officials have discovered thousands of dead fish along the Arkansas River in Little Rock and were still counting carcasses on Tuesday, a day after an angler reported seeing dozens of dead white bass. “We are on the river trying to determine the extent of the fish kill,” said Keith Stephens, public information coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Wildlife investigators said the dead fish were mainly white bass, which are common in the river, and were between 5 and 8 inches long. Most were found near the foot of the Two Rivers Bridge, an 80-foot pedestrian bridge that opened in July.
Sept 20, 2011-Canada-Victoria – The sound of lengthy whale blows, echoing through the fog in Robson Bight, caught whale researcher Marie Fournier’s attention Monday as she kept watch at an OrcaLab outpost. Then, out of the fog, swam two massive fin whales – something never previously documented in Robson Bight, off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. Fin whales, the second largest animal after blue whales, are starting to return to B.C. waters after being almost wiped out by decades of whaling, but they usually prefer the open ocean and recent sightings have been several kilometres offshore. “I was completely surprised. I had to do three or four double takes to make sure what I was seeing,” Fournier said. The identity giveaway was the size of the animals, estimated at about 22 metres, and their huge blows, reaching five metres into the air, said Fournier, who then called Jared Towers, a Fisheries and Oceans research technician. When Towers arrived to take identification photographs he discovered that he photographed one of the whales in Hecate Strait last summer. “Just by luck it turned out to be the same animal,” Towers said. It is hoped that the growing catalogue of photos will give some idea of the size of the fin whale population off Canada’s west coast, he said.
- Sept 19, 2011-Snail Invasion-Florida is used to strange creatures, but the discovery of a non-native animal – a giant snail from East Africa – has got local officials really worried. A search-and-destroy advisory that went out included this bit of history: the last time the giant snails were found in Florida (back in 1966) they had multiplied from three to 18,000 in seven years and cost $1 million to eradicate. The new population of giant African land snails was found in Miami-Dade County, and several dozen technicians were quickly dispatched to search them out. About 1,000 were found Thursday within a one-square-mile radius, the Miami Herald reported. Several hundred were found in one backyard in Coral Gables. How they got there was not immediately known. The snails were sent to freezers to be frozen to death. Why worry? Besides their intimidating size – up to 8 inches long and 4 inches in diameter – “they consume at least 500 different types of plants, can cause structural damage to plaster and stucco, and can carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans,” the Florida Department of Agriculture said in a statement Thursday.
- Sept 17, 2011-Skin Sores-New concerns in the Ogeechee River tonight. This comes just a few months after a fish kill wiped out tens of thousands of fish.
- Sept 16,2011-Killer Bees Meaner?Are the killer bees meaner than ever in 2011? The Killer Bee Guy thinks so. They’re much more ornery this year, according to Reed Booth, also know as The Killer Bee Guy. “This is the worst I’ve seen in 10 years,” Booth told CNN affiliate KOLD-TV in Tucson this week. Booth spoke after taking out a 200-pound hive of a quarter-million killer bees on a Bisbee farm earlier this week. The bees had swarmed after their hive in an outbuilding on the farm was disturbed. They killed a 1,000-pound hog and sent a pregnant 800-pound sow into a coma. The piglets were lost, KOLD reported.”A thousand-pound pig is a huge thing,” Booth said. “I’m kinda surprised that they did kill it.” Farmer Jane Hewitt said the attack was frightening. “I jumped into a car but the passenger side window was down, and they came in a black cloud towards me. I tried to swat at them and get them out the drivers side window,” she told KOLD.
- Sept 17,2011-China-Two days before the massive 9.0+ magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, millions of dead fish were found mysteriously blanketing waters at King Harbor Marina in Redondo Beach, California. And in a similar turn of events, millions of dead fish were recently discovered floating in China’s Minjiang River — just a coincidence, or a sign of worse things to come? What’s on Xiamen, a Chinese news source, reports that countless millions of dead fish were found floating on a large portion of the Minjiang River stretching from Huangtian in Gutian County, to Shuikou, an area that represents the largest grass carp breeding region in China’s Fujian Province. As many as nine million fish have reportedly died in Huangtian alone, thus far.
- Sept 16, 2011-UK butterflies have suffered following the coldest summer for 18 years, the world’s biggest butterfly count has revealed. More than 34,000 people took part in the Big Butterfly Count 2011, seeing 322,000 butterflies and day-flying moths. But the survey, by Butterfly Conservation, found that the average number of individual butterflies seen per count was down by 11% compared with last year’s figures. The Common Blue butterfly was the biggest loser with numbers down by 61%. The survey also revealed something of a North/South divide for one species with three times as many Small Tortoiseshells recorded per count in Scotland than in England. Hopes had been high for a bumper butterfly summer after parts of the UK basked in a record-breaking warm, dry spring. But the balmy conditions gave way to chilly temperatures and prolonged spells of rain as the summer of 2011 became the coldest since 1993. Butterfly activity is impaired by low temperatures and heavy rain so they are unable to fly, feed, find mates or lay eggs during bad weather. Richard Fox, Butterfly Conservation Surveys Manager said: “The fantastic response of the UK public to Big Butterfly Count 2011 has given us a detailed snapshot of how butterflies fared this summer. Twice as many counts were carried out this year as in 2010.
- Sept 14, 2011-A warming climate is likely to wipe out spring-run Chinook salmon in at least one California watershed by the century’s end, found a new study. No matter which climate projections the researchers used, warmer waters spelled major trouble for the fish in the coming decades if people do nothing to help the fish. And the findings are likely to apply to a variety of salmon species up and down the West Coast, especially in California where temperatures are closest to the tipping point. “I saw the results almost a year ago, and I just sat at my desk and cried,” said Lisa Thompson, a fisheries biologist at the University of California, Davis. “Fish weren’t making it through to the end of the century in almost all cases.” “Things look grim,” she added. “But there are things we can do.” For the last five years, Thompson and colleagues have been studying spring-run Chinook salmon in the Butte Creek watershed, in the Central Valley of California. These types of fish are particularly sensitive to climate change because adults spend their summers in freshwater streams before spawning in the fall. And compared to the Pacific Ocean, where the fish spend the rest of the year, streams are far quicker to warm up in hot conditions. More than a million spring-run Chinook used to live in the waters of the Central Valley, Thompson said. Today there are fewer than 10,000 of them — a decline of 99 percent.
- Sept 10, 2011-Mystery Gunk-The mysterious stuff that caused concern and curiosity after being found last month floating on the Anacostia River has been identified. It’s rare and it’s alive, federal officials said Friday. But they also said it is on the way out and expected to disappear. The Environmental Protection Agency said the black substance that has plagued part of the Anacostia since mid-August is not a petroleum product or other hazardous material as was thought. It is, the EPA said, an unusual bloom of algae.
- Sept 7, 2011-King Crab-Global warming is the most likely cause of a growing number of king crabs that have been marching along the sea floor toward West Antarctica, according to a report by biologists on Wednesday. The intruder, ‘Neolithodes yaldwyni Ahyong and Dawson’, a bright-red deep-sea predator that had previously been spotted only in the Ross Sea, on the other side of West Antarctica, is now living and reproducing in abundance on the western edge of the icy continent. Writing in the journal Proceedings B, scientists said the crabs are currently thriving in the Palmer Deep, a basin cut in the continental shelf. They believe the crabs were washed in during an upsurge of warmer water. The crabs are ravenous predators on the sea floor and could likely change the ecosystem profoundly if they spread further, researchers warn. The crab is known as an “ecosystem engineer” because it digs into the sea floor to feast on worms and other tiny animals, an activity that can have repercussions across the marine food web if these crabs continue to multiply and spread out. A team of scientists, led by Laura Grange of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, lowered a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), named the Genesis, into the Palmer Deep in March of last year as part of a long-term probe into biodiversity in the waters off Antarctica.
- Sept 6, 2011-Killer Whales-Scientists have documented a coordinated, gruesome attack on a school of sleeper sharks by a little-studied group of orcas that ranges from California to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. An article published recently in the journal Aquatic Biology tells of a 2008 feeding frenzy in British Columbia waters just south of the Alaska border, reports the Canadian Press. The [orcas] were hyperventilating, arching their backs and diving deep. On the hydrophone, [Canadian scientist John] Ford could hear their excited songs. Minutes passed and then a chunk of tissue — about 250 grams in size and later proven to be part of a liver — floated to the surface, coming to rest in a slick of oil. More and more tissue and oil soon appeared, covering an area of ocean in a sheen hundreds of metres in size and flattening the water’s ripples. Ford believes the killer whales target sharks because the nutritional payoff is good. Ford thinks orcas are targeting sharks because their livers are rich in fatty oils and energy. “We believe that for killer whales generally that they are going after the most profitable prey, which tend to be the bigger kinds of body sizes and the highest oil content,” he said. In general, non-migratory orcas (“residents”) feed on salmon and other fish, while near-shore “transients” feed on marine mammals. But the diet of these offshore whales, which cruise the outer continental shelf in groups of 30 to 70, has remained a mystery. Ford also tells of an attack on sharks by orcas in Prince William Sound in 2009.
- Sept 04, 2011-Fuji/Xiamen – Fish farms along the Minjiang River in the Shuikou Township section of East China’s Fujian province have been hit by a wave of fish kills in recent days, but the cause has yet to be determined, local authorities said on Sunday. Some 9,000 tanks of fish, including about 8,000 in Shuikou town and some 1,000 in Huangtian town, were reported dead as of Saturday, according to a release from the government of Gutian county, which administers the two townships. One tank usually holds 3,500 to 5,000 fish. “We’re calculating the number of the dead fish and economic losses,” said Zeng Lisheng, a Gutian publicity officer. The river’s Shuikou section is Fujian’s largest freshwater fish cultivation base, and it provides local markets with about 100,000 kilograms of fish a day during harvest seasons. Zeng said that local fishery and environmental protection departments are investigating the case and examining the water, but the reasons for the fish die-offs are unknown. “We’re mobilizing people, ships and vehicles to scoop up the dead fish, and we will bury them deeply under nearby hills with quicklime to prevent them from harming the environment,” he said.
- Sept 02, 2011-Yarmouth Port, MA – As the afternoon tide was going out on the last day of August; 13 common dolphins headed toward the shoreline off First Encounter Beach in Eastham, MA. Rescuers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) responded quickly – rescuing 11 healthy animals from certain death. First, the team tried to herd the animals back out to open water by dropping acoustic deterrents called pingers from a boat, but unfortunately this technique was unsuccessful and the pod of dolphins beached themselves despite their efforts. “Our goal was to get the healthy animals back out to open water as soon as possible,” said Katie Moore, IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue team Manager. “Two of the animals died almost immediately after stranding, but fortunately we were able to transport 11 remaining dolphins to Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown and release them to the safety of open water. This is the largest number of dolphins we have ever rescued and released at one time.”
- August 30, 2011-California/State Fish and Game wardens are trying to figure out why so many brown pelicans are showing up along California’s Central Coast with huge puncture wounds in their chests. The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports that 15 birds have died in recent days from wounds that could have been caused by a knife or other sharp object. Last Thursday three were brought into the Pacific Wildlife Care center in Morro Bay and two had to be euthanized because the injuries were so bad. The third is being treated.
- August 28,2011-Ireland/A significant fish-kill was discovered in the River Bandon in Cork after a member of the public alerted staff of Inland Fisheries Ireland. More than 350 salmon and trout were found dead over a one-mile stretch of the river. The fish kill included salmon of up to 2.7kg (6lb). Many of the fish were decomposing. An extensive search revealed no source of pollution and it was concluded that the event that caused the kill had passed by the time investigations began. Head of fishery operations Dr Greg Forde, said: “During the summer, rivers are particularly vulnerable and factories and farmers must be particularly careful. There have already been three fish kills in the Cork and Kerry area.”
- August 26, 2011-UK/Scientists investigating the death of seals washed up with mystery ‘corkscrew’ injuries now believe that females may have a fatal attraction for some ship’s propellers. Experts suspect that female harbour seals – also known as common seals – are lured into the killer ducted blades because they produce the same accoustics as mating calls of male seals.
Of seven harbour seals found along the Fife coast with the horrific trademark injuries this summer – five turned out to be females.
- August 26, 2011-A 50-foot (15-meter) sperm whale died Friday after washing up on a beach in a resort in northern Spain, and it was so big that a tug boat was unable to pull it back out to sea. The whale was still alive when it was discovered early in the morning stranded on the sands of Zarautz town, but it soon died, said marine scientist Enrique Franco. The cause of the whale’s demise was not known, but Franco said: “It almost certainly came here to die. It’s not uncommon for such animals to beach when they are very ill.” Despite its large size, the whale had not yet reached maturity, said Franco, vice president of the Society for the Study and Conservation of Marine Fauna in Spain’s Bay of Biscay.
- August 26, 2011-Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are disappearing in some parts of Africa, but scientists are unsure as to why.
Figures indicate controls such as anti-mosquito bed nets are having a significant impact on the incidence of malaria in some sub-Saharan countries. But in Malaria Journal, researchers say mosquitoes are also disappearing from areas with few controls.
They are uncertain if mosquitoes are being eradicated or whether they will return with renewed vigour. Data from countries such as Tanzania, Eritrea, Rwanda, Kenya and Zambia all indicate that the incidence of malaria is dropping fast. Researchers believe this is due to effective implementation of control programmes, especially the deployment of bed nets treated with insecticide.
August 24, 2011-New statistics reveal the severity of this year’s horrendous run of marine animal deaths. The dead bodies of 119 turtles have been found in Gladstone Harbour this year. The figures will do nothing to ease the sense of frustration gripping the region’s coast-loving public. The Observer has received a range of statistics on Gladstone’s marine animal deaths from the office of Environment Minister Vicky Darling. Eight dugongs and five dolphins have also been found dead. There is still no sign of a list containing specific information, such as locations and dates. This is despite calls from Gladstone Region Mayor Gail Sellers for every autopsy result to be made public.