Archive | August 7, 2015

5,000 sheep have died, ‘reason unknown’ all across Iceland

Farmers in Iceland are baffled by the unexplained deaths of thousands of the country’s sheep
About 5,000 sheep died this spring, with the northern and western regions worst affected, and so far experts haven’t been able to work out why, Morgunbladid’s Iceland Monitor website reports. One theory is that sulphur emitted during a recent volcanic eruption might be to blame, as it could have contaminated vegetation and caused malnutrition in the sheep. The huge eruption at the Holuhraun lava field lasted for six months, and released millions of tonnes of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.
“When the ash cloud moves over the country from the east, it is often accompanied by rain,” Prof Jonas Eliasson, from the University of Iceland, tells the site. “The rain cleans the sulphur out of the air and snow does the job even better. When the snow melts in the spring, the sulphur remains on vegetation and in the soil.”
Many ewes died after the lambing season, and farmers reported signs of malnourishment in their animals even though they were eating properly, Iceland Magazine reported in June. In the most extreme cases, farms lost up to 30% of their flock. There have been other theories surrounding what might have caused the deaths, including disease, cold weather and poor-quality hay. Blood samples from the sheep have been sent to Norway for testing, with the results expected around the end of July, according to the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority.
Courtesy of

Thousands of dead crabs wash ashore in New Jersey, USA

Thousands of dead crabs have washed ashore at
Thousands of dead crabs have washed ashore at the Bayshore Waterfront Park in Port Monmouth. (July 28, 2015 7:27 PM)
Thousands of dead crabs have washed up at the Bayshore Waterfront Park in the Port Monmouth section of Middletown.
Visitors to the park say the crabs were found all along the coastline, as well as in the water, and that the smell from the crabs baking in the hot sun was unbearable.
“When we were trying to go swimming, they’d come up and hit your legs,” says visitor Brooke Zimmerman.
Courtesy of newjersey


Subject To Change

Depth: 2 km

Distances: 210 km NW of Suva, Fiji / pop: 77,366 / local time: 06:20:59.1 2015-08-08
128 km N of Nadi, Fiji / pop: 42,284 / local time: 06:20:59.1 2015-08-08

Global viewRegional view

30 TONS of fish have died in ponds in Suqian, China

“Oh, my fish ponds where the fish are killed off.” July 27 morning, in the residential district contracted double Town neighborhood pond dam Dong Zhao France and China call the hotline, he said he contracted 30 acres of fish more than 15,000 kilograms of fish ponds are killed off, seeing their hard invested nearly one million more than a year raised fry has grown, ready to open in autumn sale of fishing, but misfortune happened after Zhao France and China the first time make the alarm call, the current case is still under investigation.
Courtesy of

Hundreds of thousands of sockeye salmon dying in the Columbia River, USA

More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries due to warming water temperatures.
Federal and state fisheries biologists say the warm water is lethal for the cold-water species and is wiping out at least half of this year’s return of 500,000 fish.
“We had a really big migration of sockeye,” said Ritchie Graves of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “The thing that really hurts is we’re going to lose a majority of those fish.”
He said up to 80 percent of the population could ultimately perish.
Elsewhere in the region, state fisheries biologists in Oregon say more than 100 spring chinook died earlier this month in the Middle Fork of the John Day River when water temperatures hit the mid-70s. Oregon and Washington state have both enacted sport fishing closures due to warm water, and sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River upstream of Bonneville Dam has been halted after some of the large, bottom dwelling fish started turning up dead.
Efforts by management teams to cool flows below 70 degrees by releasing cold water from selected reservoirs are continuing in an attempt to prevent similar fish kills among chinook salmon and steelhead, which migrate later in the summer from the Pacific Ocean.
The fish become stressed at temperatures above 68 degrees and stop migrating at 74 degrees. Much of the basin is at or over 70 degrees due to a combination that experts attribute to drought and record heat in June.
“The tributaries are running hot,” Graves said. “A lot of those are in the 76-degree range.”
In Idaho, an emergency declaration earlier this month allowed state fisheries managers to capture endangered Snake River sockeye destined for central Idaho and take them to a hatchery to recover in cooler water. Of the 4,000 fish that passed Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, less than a fourth made it to Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River. An average year is 70 percent.
“Right now it’s grim for adult sockeye,” said Russ Kiefer of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. He said sockeye will often pull into tributary rivers in search of cooler water, but aren’t finding much relief.
“They’re running out of energy reserves, and we’re getting a lot of reports of fish dead and dying,” he said.
Thirteen species of salmon and steelhead are listed as endangered or threatened in the Columbia River basin.
Don Campton of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said fish congregating in confined areas trying to find cool water makes them a target for pathogens.
“When temperatures get warm, it does stress the fish out and they become susceptible to disease,” he said.
Graves said that this year’s flow in the Columbia River is among the lowest in the last 60 years. But he said the system has experienced similar low flows without the lethal water temperatures. He said the difference this year has been prolonged hot temperatures, sometimes more than 100 degrees, in the interior part of the basin.
“The flow is abnormally low, but on top of that we’ve had superhot temperatures for a really long time,” he said.
Courtesy of

TONS of dead fish ‘due to pollution’ in a river in Tomar, Portugal

The environmental group Aqua Take denounced the killing tons of fish near the dam of Matrena in the Nabão River in Tomar. The source of the pollution may be in the stream of Beselga, where one flows into wastewater treatment plant, but also suspected of illegal downloading. The citizen Américo Costa attributed blame the municipality for not removing the rotten fish and allegedly open the dam’s floodgates and let the carcasses decomposing follow downstream right to the Zêzere and the river beach of Constance, and from there to the Tagus.
In addition, Americo Costa complains that the authorities, and in particular SEPNA -Service Protection of Nature and the Environment GNR, will only have flocked to its complaint a day and a half after contact. “We know that the first few hours are crucial,” said the activist, recalling that the monitoring of pollution in the water depends on the height at which the samples are taken. Opening the floodgates, the pollutant load diluted.
Courtesy of

Hurricane Hilda Forms In The Pacific

Hurricane Alert

Tropical Storm Hilda has strengthened into a hurricane in the Pacific far off the Hawaiian islands.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds strengthened Friday afternoon to 80 mph (130 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the storm is centered about 1,215 miles (1,950 kilometers) east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and is moving west at 15 mph (24 kph).
There is still no threat to land. A turn to the west-northwest was expected Friday night or Saturday.
Courtesy of

Spain wildfires threaten homes amid Europe heatwave and drought warnings

A firefighter looks at the forest fire burning in Canon de Almadenes, one of three sites consumed by fire in Cieza, southeastern Spain, early 7 August 2015
Wildfires have forced more than 1,400 people to leave their homes in western Spain as dry, hot conditions spark warnings in other European countries
Towns and campsites have been evacuated as planes and helicopters help to tackle the blaze in Spain’s Sierra de Gata mountain area.
Nearly 80% of neighbouring Portugal is experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions, experts say.
Meanwhile Germany is facing its hottest temperatures on record.
Meteorologists say temperatures in Germany’s south could exceed the country’s all-time high of 40.3C (105F) on Friday.
The current record was measured on 5 July in the town of Kitzingen in Bavaria.
Exceptionally dry
Some 330 firefighters and other emergency crew members were deployed as fires, fanned by strong winds, threatened homes in Spain’s Extremadura region in the early hours of Friday, according to reports.
The blaze has burned more than 5,000 hectares (12,400 acres), local police said in a statement (in Spanish).
More fires destroyed about 3,000 hectares of forest and scrubland near the towns of Lorca and Cieza, near Murcia, in the south-east of the country.
Exceptionally dry conditions, rising temperatures and moderate winds have also increased the risk of forest fires in Portugal, officials there said.
The Portuguese Weather and Sea Institute said in a monthly report published on Thursday that average rainfall in July was only 3.5mm (0.1 inches). The usual amount for July is almost 14mm.
Warnings are also in place for extreme heat in eastern France.
But the UK is forecast to see temperatures peak at about 25C over the weekend.
Courtesy of BBC News

Chemical spill reaction releases toxic gas, 6 contaminated in Mriehel, Malta

Chemical Spill Alert

A factory in Mriehel was evacuated this morning following a chemical reaction that led to the release of toxic gases.
Six persons were contaminated and a Hazmat tent was set up at Mater Dei Hospital. Acting Mater Dei CEO Joe Zarb Adami said that the six cases were not of a serious nature.
The officer in charge of the hazmat unit, Albert Tabone, told this newsroom that a small fire started after employees at the Vernon factory, which produces processed food, threw empty magnesium phosphide sacks into a tank. The chemical, which is used in the factory’s fumigation process, auto ignited.
Factory employees tried to put the fire out by dousing water over the tank but this actually made things worse as the chemical reacted to the water and produced a toxic gas.
Civil Protection officers put out the fire using sand and are now taking the chemical to WasteServ for proper disposal.
The police and Civil Protection Department, as well as the hazmat unit, were called in to deal with the situation. Two CPD members were taken to a clinic for treatment.
Contrary to earlier reports (not The Malta Independent), only the Vernon factory was evacuated, and not all of Mriehel. 
A statement issued this afternoon by the Department of Information confirmed that four packets of magnesium sulphide caught fire at the Vernon factory in Mriehel after four workers disposed of the packets.
Members of the HAZMAT unit were dispatched to the scene, along with members of the Police Force.
When the fire was being extinguished by workers of the factory using water, the chemicals reacted, emitting a poisonous gas – phosgene. The zone was evacuated and the fire extinguished. The material was also sealed in special containers. Two factory workers and four Civil Protection workers were admitted to hospital to receive the necessary treatment.
Courtesy of


Subject To Change

Depth: 7 km

Distances: 82km (51mi) ENE of Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
2632km (1635mi) ESE of Ushuaia, Argentina
2836km (1762mi) ESE of Rio Gallegos, Argentina
2855km (1774mi) SE of Puerto Deseado, Argentina
2132km (1325mi) ESE of Stanley, Falkland Islands