Archive | March 19, 2016

URGENT UPDATE: Sea bird die off now up to 36,000 in Alaska, USA

The common murre on Sarah Schoen’s examination table lived a short, hungry life.
Measurements of its beak and leg indicated it hatched in June. Its stomach and breast showed how it died. The 3-inch-long stomach was empty, and the pectoral muscles that powered its wings, allowing it to “fly” underwater after forage fish, were emaciated.
“As the bird starves, the body eats the muscle for energy,” Schoen said. “The muscle becomes more and more concave.”
Schoen, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, and Rob Kaler, a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on Friday performed necropsies on common murres, part of an effort by dozens of scientists to explain the massive die-off of common murres that began one year ago.
Common murres are one of the northern hemisphere’s most common seabirds. The Alaska population is estimated at 2.8 million out of a world population of 13 to 20.7 million birds. Awkward on land, common murres can dive to 600 feet hunting fish or krill.
Die-offs have occurred before but not on this magnitude. Common murres routinely live 20-25 years but have a metabolism rate so high that they can use up fat reserves and drop to a critical threshold for starvation, 65 per cent of normal body rate, in three days of not eating.
Abnormal numbers of carcasses, all showing signs of starvation, began washing ashore on Alaska beaches in March 2015. Numbers spiked to alarming levels in early winter.
The confirmed carcass count is now up to 36,000, Schoen said. That’s far higher than previous common murre die-offs and many beaches have not been surveyed.
New common murre carcasses continue to be recorded, most recently on Kodiak, Alaska Peninsula communities and the Pribilof Islands.
“The ravens and eagles make it easy to see that birds are continuing to die and get washed up,” Kaler said. The scavengers eat the dead murres.
No one is offering an estimate of the total deaths. In previous die-off, researchers estimated that only about 15 per cent of carcasses reach shores, which means the total may be in the hundreds of thousands.
The USGS’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, is testing murres for signs of disease or parasites. Though the murres appear to have starved, researchers wonder if something caused them to quit eating or to be less successful funding food.
Schoen and Kaler were looking for broad, general information about body conditions.
They extracted samples of liver, which can indicate what the bird ate a week before it died, and muscle, which can indicate what it ate in the last month. They took feather samples for isotope analysis regarding diet.
Sudden diet changes could be telling. If they were eating at one level of the food web, and a regular food source became unavailable, it could provide insight into the deaths, Schoen said.
Some details are emerging.
Schoen in January necropsied 61 birds found in Prince William Sound. Most were birds under 2 years old and 77 per cent were female. Female deaths are significant because of the possible effect on the overall population.
The sampled birds also were heavier than birds sampled in a 1993 die-off, Schoen said.
“So it doesn’t look like just starvation is killing them,” Schoen said. “It looks like there’s something else that could be tipping them over the edge.”
That reason could be a toxin birds ingested from tainted algae. The reason could be severe winter storms that kept weakened birds from feeding. Or it could be something unknown.
Federal agencies don’t have dedicated funding to solve the common murre mystery but will continue investigating as time allows. Schoen and Kaler said they hope to continue the sampling work with carcasses collected from other areas of Alaska.
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Hundreds of dead fish washing up at Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach in Florida, USA

Fish Kill Alert

Although westerly winds have rid the beaches of stinging jellyfish over the last 48 hours, hundreds of dead fish are washing up along the beaches of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach on Tuesday, March 15, 2016.
The fish kill is limited to just one species – the Atlantic Bumper which are members of the Jack family and known locally as Hornbellies, according to outdoor sports writer Ted Lund.
This is the second fish kill that Brevard County beachgoers have seen within the last 3 months after several cargo containers fell overboard from a barge that departed from Port Canaveral in early December. However, there has not been an official connection made between the Port Canaveral shipping accident and the recent fish kills.
“We can expect more of this sort of thing as cargo spills become a regular part of lives thanks to the aggressive industrialization plans underway at Port Canaveral,” Lund said.
“We still don’t know what went overboard, how much of it or where. This very well could be a time-release type situation where packaging or containers are breaking down overtime. The way thread herring or Atlantic bumper behave, it’s very likely they would see a submerged container as structure to congregate around, then they could fall victim en masse to any sort of chemical leak.” 
“Additionally, there have been hundreds or sick, dying or dead pelicans, gannets and shearwaters as well as an inordinate number of dead sea turtles.”
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Thousands of fish and 6 crocodiles dead as river runs dry in Yadgir, India

At least six crocodiles and thousands of fish have been found dead around the banks of the Bhima in Yadgir district. — photos: Ravikumar Naraboli
Photo By Ravikumar Naraboli
At least six crocodiles and thousands of fish have been found dead at different places around the Bhima banks in Yadgir district in recent days. The reason: little water in the river.
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Hundreds of dead fish found washed ashore along McPhee Reservoir in Colorado, USA

Fish Kill Alert

Hundreds of dead fish have washed up on the shores of McPhee Reservoir near Dolores.
Fishermen reported the fish die-off Friday morning in the two retainment ponds that border the town. A tour of the area revealed more than 300 dead trout, kokanee salmon and carp ranging in size from 6 inches to 18 inches floating on the shores of both large ponds.
“I came down to fish and this is what I found,” said Dolores fisherman Jim Koenig. “It makes me sick to see it.”
The ponds are isolated from the main body of the reservoir because of low water levels. They were recently iced over, but have melted in the past few days.
“You could see the fish frozen in the ice a week ago and the eagles eating them,” said fisherman Shane Brisnin. “Now they’ve been blown to the shore. I grew up fishing here and never saw this many die off.”
Jim White, a fish biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said this is the time of year when there can be natural fish kills in shallow bodies of water because of ice and lack of oxygen. He said the McPhee fish die-off is not from a toxic pollution source.
“I’m certain they died from lack of dissolved oxygen in the water,” he said. “The ponds do not have regular flushing, and the fish become trapped in there.”
Headgate issueA headgate and pipe from the adjacent Dolores River is designed to keep the ponds full of fresh water, but the system is not working because the intake pipe is often above the flow of the river.
“Winter fish die-off is natural, but in this case it is exacerbated by an engineering problem,” White said.
It’s uncertain who has jurisdiction for maintaining the intake pipe, a question that’s been debated by federal agencies for the past year.
The San Juan National Forest manages the shores and the lake bottom when it is dry. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation built the reservoir’s infrastructure. The Dolores Water Conservancy District manages the water for irrigation. And the Colorado Parks and Wildlife is responsible for the fishery.
Jurisdiction debatedMcPhee Reservoir is the key component of the Dolores Project, a $500 million irrigation system constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation in the 1970s and 1980s.
It began filling in the 1980s, and in 1986 the Bureau of Reclamation transferred management of the shores and exposed lake bottom to the San Juan National Forest under a Memorandum of Agreement.
“We build the infrastructure then turn over maintenance and operations,” said Vern Harrell, a Reclamation engineer in the Cortez office.
But the Forest Service is not so certain about who has management authority for the headgate and pipe into the ponds.
“The BOR did reserve jurisdiction on certain structures associated with the dam operation,” said Derek Padilla, Dolores District ranger for the Forest Service. “Unfortunately, there is not a detailed list of what those structures are so that is still being researched by the regional office.”
Once it is determined which agency is responsible, additional analysis would be needed to determine if and when the inlet system can be made functional.
Tour, suggested fixReservoir officials toured the area last summer. They said the headgate is open, but the pipe is likely partially filled with sediment.
A suggested solution is to place boulders in the river near the headgate to raise the water level, allowing fresh water to flow into the pipe and ponds.
Koenig has been raising awareness of the problem to elected officials and federal agencies for two years. But he said the lack of action has been frustrating.
“Somebody has the responsibility,” he said. “The taxpayer’s paid for these ponds, and they should be maintained and operated like they are designed to, with regular fresh water running through so they don’t get stagnant and kill our fishing spot.”
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Thousands of dead fish found in Lower Lake Mary in Arizona, USA

Fish Kill Alert

Two days after the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocked Lower Lake Mary with nearly 8,000 trout, a sizable portion of those fish were found dead.
On Thursday, the department collected 1,500 to 2,000 dead fish from the lake, department spokeswoman Shelly Shepherd said.
The reason for the kill, water testing later revealed, was low dissolved oxygen levels in certain areas of the water, Shepherd said. The department hadn’t tested the lake’s dissolved oxygen levels before the fish were stocked, she said.
“It was one of those rare occurrences and we were caught by surprise,” she said.
Shepherd explained that ice and snow that covered Lower Lake Mary for nearly two months over the winter blocked sunlight from filtering to the lake bottom, halting photosynthesis among the aquatic plants. In the absence of light plants do however, continue to respire. During that process, plants consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide, which is what lowered oxygen levels in the water.
As a result of the fish kill, fishing at Lake Mary will slow temporarily, Shepherd said. She said anglers should be on the lookout for signs of fish becoming active on the surface of the lake, which will signal that the fishing is good again, Shepherd said.
The department will continue to monitor water quality and will restock more fish in Lower Lake Mary when conditions improve. Shepherd said she wasn’t given an estimate on when that might happen.
She did note that Game and Fish officials saw live fish as well when they were out at the lake on Thursday.
In the meantime, the department advised anglers to check out Dogtown Lake south of Williams or Frances Short Pond in Flagstaff as alternative fishing locations.
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Subject To Change

Depth: 10 km

Distances: 566 km N of Helsinki, Finland / pop: 558,457 / local time: 23:55:28.5 2016-03-19
54 km S of Luleå, Sweden / pop: 45,551 / local time: 22:55:28.5 2016-03-19
46 km SE of Piteå, Sweden / pop: 22,044 / local time: 22:55:28.5 2016-03-19

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16,880 chickens killed due to outbreak of avian flu in Changhua, Taiwan

Avian Flu

More than 16,000 chickens on a farm in Chutang Township, Changhua, were culled Saturday due to an outbreak of avian influenza, the county’s Animal Disease Control Center said.
The center was notified Friday by the national Animal Health Research Institute that the chickens on the farm were infected with the highly pathogenic H5 subtype virus, the center’s director Tung Meng-chi
(董孟治) said.
All 16,880 chickens on the farm were culled Saturday and disinfection was in progress, Tung said.
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Hundreds of dead fish found in a lake in Oran, Algeria, Africa

Pertes halieutiques à Oran : Des carpes mortes au lac d’Oum Ghelaz
Reacting to this ecological disaster, two nature lovers, which is an agricultural engineer, have moved closer, our editorial to the death of a large number of fish at the level of this biodiversity site. Indeed, on the spot was desolate, hundreds of dead fish floated to the surface of the water, and throughout the shores of the Lake in question. The death of these fish may not be caused by the temperature currently registered at the level of the wilaya of Oran, since common carp is known to be a species with high thermal resistance. Adulthood, it can easily reach 20 kilograms”, in 2001 and 2002, made inquiries, and even a study, to create pools of various species of fish breeding in a part of the Lake, to train young people in this type of business, unfortunately, no further only him has been reserved. Travelling along the banks of the Lake, we have seen that the color of the water was yellowish, different than the wide which is clearer, what led us to discover an overflow of sewage from a pipeline located across the road which seep under a culvert, and drain into the water of the Lake , which clearly could be the cause of this mortality, of course, a Lake health depends on the State of its shoreline, but who is concerned, then the logic requires monitoring permanent natural sites, the sampling of water, Earth, and leaves for analysis purposes. These concrete actions are able to allow the effective fight against all forms of pollution. In addition, this requires also sensitization permanent in order to anchor the bases of environmental culture among the population, beneficial awareness to the health of the man, who, unfortunately, sorely lacking in Algeria, or very many citizens are totally ignorant of the danger of the batteries in electronic watches that they throw in nature, drain oil that it discharges into sewers , the batteries of vehicles are burned in a forest to extract the lead, painting furniture and cars used in outdoor, hospital infectious waste that is burned open pit, waste water from any an industrial area flowing into a lake where dozens of species of migratory birds staying, leachate (garbage juice) from the Centre of landfill by Hassi Boswell which empties into agricultural fields. Is this not there of unconsciousness? Is it not a crime?
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Subject To Change

Depth: 20 km

Distances: 160 km NE of Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda / pop: 24,226 / local time: 07:26:30.9 2016-03-19
228 km E of Gustavia, Saint Barthelemy / pop: 5,988 / local time: 07:26:30.9 2016-03-19
231 km E of Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis / pop: 12,920 / local time: 07:26:30.9 2016-03-19

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