Archive | September 24, 2021

Thousands of dead fish wash up in a lagoon in Junín, Argentina

Fish Kill Alert

As a result of a strong wind from the south that blew throughout the night of Saturday in the Buenos Aires town of Junín, thousands of fish that lived in the Laguna de Gómez were dragged to the shore, where they ended up dying.

The inhabitants of this city located in the interior of the province of Buenos Aires were surprised when, waking up on Sunday morning, they found the image of silversides, tents and catfish piled on the ground, meters from the water.

According to the local newspaper Democracia, this phenomenon originated because the great gusts removed the bottom of the lagoon where there is a large concentration of debris, product of the drought that affected the area in recent days.

These debris are particles that arose as a result of the decomposition of a solid mass, and caused the lack of oxygen in the water that led to the death of the fish that, already lifeless, were dragged by the mainland current.

During the day, employees of the municipality toured the coast collecting the remains of these specimens to take them to another place and prevent them from causing major problems in the population. Work would continue throughout Monday.

It is not the first time that something like this has happened in Junín, and even in the Laguna de Gómez, where in 2012 thousands of fish also died due to the decrease in their water volume after an intense drought.

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4 grey whales wash up dead on beach in San Francisco, USA

Whale Alert

Four dead gray whales have washed ashore San Francisco Bay Area beaches in the last nine days, with experts saying Friday one was struck by a ship. They were trying to determine how the other three died.

“It’s alarming to respond to four dead gray whales in just over a week because it really puts into perspective the current challenges faced by this species,” says Dr. Pádraig Duignan, Director of Pathology at The Marine Mammal Center.

The carcass of a 41-foot adult female gray whale landed at San Francisco’s Crissy Field on March 31. A second adult female was found last Saturday in Moss Beach in San Mateo County. A third was found Wednesday floating near the Berkeley Marina and the following day one washed up in Marin County’s Muir Beach.

The whales migrate 10,000 miles to winter off Mexico’s waters, where they mate and birth calves near the coast of Baja California. They head back north and stay off the coast of California in spring and summer to feed on anchovies, sardines and krill before continuing on their northerly migration to cool, food-rich Arctic waters.

In 2019, at least 13 dead whales washed ashore in the Bay Area and scientists said they feared it was because the animals were starving and couldn’t complete their annual migration from Mexico to Alaska. Biologists have observed gray whales in poor body condition during their annual migration since 2019, when an “unusual mortality event” was declared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Malnutrition, entanglement in fishing gear, and trauma from ship strikes have been the most common causes of death found by the center’s research team in recent years.

A necropsy of the whale found at Muir Beach revealed significant bruising and hemorrhaging to muscle around the whale’s jaw and neck vertebrae consistent with blunt force trauma due to ship strike. But experts noted the whale was in good body condition based on the blubber layer and internal fat levels, the center said.

Experts haven’t determined how the other three whales died or if starvation was behind their deaths.

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Thousands of dead fish wash up along a river in New Jersey, USA

Fish Kill Alert

Local waterways and river banks have been awash in dead fish recently, an occurrence that seems to be increasing.

Swarna Muthukrishnan, Ph.D. the staff scientist for Clean Ocean Action, explained the scenarios during which this phenomenon might occur, which included natural (varying oxygen levels in the water), man-made (climate change, toxic runoff) and bacterial.

And the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), has now determined that a Vibrio bacterium specific to fish seems to be causing the current fish kills in the area, according to information from COA.

Residents and others along the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers may be used to seeing the dead menhaden – an oily fish harvested by fishermen for chum and for use in sup- plements, livestock feed and cosmetics, among oth- er things – at certain times throughout the year. A filter fish at the bottom of the food chain, menhaden, or bunker fish, swim in schools and are the favorite prey of larger fish and marine birds. They are often chased into shallow waters and, during warmer months, die from the low levels of dissolved oxygen in those areas.

But dead fish began showing up in November and December, two colder months that don’t usually fit this pattern, and the fish were seen “spinning” in the water before dying. Sightings increased dramatically this past week.

Rick Swanson, a 20-year resident of Fair Haven, said he has seen the dead fish wash up every year and agreed that this year is especially bad. He lives where Fair Haven meets Red Bank at what he called an “elbow” in the Navesink River. “The wind and the current go right into the corners and we get everything that washes up,” he said. This week that included thousands of dead menhaden.

“They’re coming in almost like an oil slick,” Swanson said. “This is definitely several times the volume of anything we’ve ever seen.”

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Mass die off of sea creatures wash up on beach in the Hague, Netherlands

Fish Kill Alert

A stormy wind from the north caused high waves on Monday and Tuesday and that caused nuisance along the coast. In Castricum, even beach houses and a pavilion went up in the air.

Now it appears that many different types of sea creatures have also become children of the bill. Although this is not uncommon. “Sea creatures like this wash ashore more often after such a violent storm as we had on Tuesday,” says ecologist Serena Rivero of the North Sea Foundation. “These animals come from the bottom of the sea. They dig themselves into that, that’s their habitat actually. If the soil is then ploughed by such a storm, then they can wash ashore.”

According to Serena, it’s okay that this is happening now. It’s all part of the ecosystem. “You see that such large groups of fish that wash ashore are often a feast for birds.”

It can also happen that fish and sea creatures wash ashore that have something wrong with them. For example, porpoises often wash ashore when they are sick. And seahorses can occasionally have trouble swimming against the current and therefore wash up.

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Hundreds of dead dolphins and fish wash up on beaches in Ghana

Dolphin Alert

Photo Illustration

Authorities in Ghana are investigating the deaths of hundreds of dolphins and fish that washed up on beaches in Ghana in recent days, as fears grow that contaminated fish have been sold to customers.

Dead sea species have littered beaches in Accra and near the capital’s shoreline since Friday. Officials said close to 100 dead dolphins had washed up on Axim beach, while videos posted on social media showed scores of varying species including eels and several fish species.

Ghana’s fisheries commission said it had taken laboratory samples of the animals and waters in recent days while the cause remained unknown.

An official at the commission, Dr Peter Zedah, told local media on Wednesday that investigations were ongoing but initial findings showed “environment” and “stress factors” had caused the deaths. Some of the fish studied “looked good, so it gives you the impression that maybe some environmental factors may have caused their death”, he said.

Officials on Tuesday asked people who may have consumed the fish to come forward as part of their investigations, and Ghana’s minister of fisheries and aquaculture, Mavis Koomson, asked fishers in Accra “to cooperate with the Fisheries Commission and FDA as they investigate the incidents of dead fishes washing up on our shores”.

Fears have also emerged for the fate of some sea mammals, such as the Atlantic humpback dolphin, an endangered subspecies, along the coast of west Africa.

Workers from the OR Foundation, an NGO researching the impact of secondhand clothing waste on Ghana’s marine environment, had seen several fish on the beaches since Friday, with many still washing up dead on Tuesday evening.

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Thousands of dead fish wash up in a harbour in South Africa

Fish Kill Alert

It took the Marine Wildlife Management team at the V&A Waterfront several days to scoop up thousands of dead mullets (a type of fish) that were floating in the harbour. For the past few weeks shoppers had to endure a strong rotting fish smell as a result.

Donald Kau, communications officer for the V&A Waterfront, says every year the Waterfront has mullets breeding in the basin, but this year the number was quite high.

He said the fish died because of lack of oxygen. “We also saw a large school of mackerel entering the harbour, and the high volume of fish obviously impacted on the levels of oxygen in the water, causing the fish to die.”

Kau says the mullets return every year to breed and their numbers are being monitored. He explained this annual occurrence does not seem to impact on its numbers too negatively as only the strong survive.

He says the reason for heightened activity of marine life in the harbour is that fish is a great source of food for the Cape Fur Seals and the Sea Gulls.

“It is also confirmed the school of mackerel was followed by a pair of Humpback Whales, so the harbour basin literally had a ‘system overload’,” Kau explained.

He reiterated that there’s no cause for concern as it is a “natural occurrence”. “The marine and harbour team sees this kind of activity every year and when it happens, they mitigate the reduced oxygen by opening the lock and flushing the bay with the water from the canals. This gets done up to six times a day.”

Renée Leeuwner, communication and media executive officer for the Two Oceans Aquarium, says because of the high ammonia levels (1 mg/litre), the aquarium has had to shut off the water supply from the harbour and will be run on a closed system (no incoming water) to protect the animals in its care.

“We have also increased the freshwater flows into our harbour basins to increase the oxygen levels in the water, which is so important for its aquatic life,” concludes Kau.

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Thousands of dead fish wash up on the coast of Southern Iran

Fish Kill Alert

Thousands of dead fish have washed up on the southern Iranian shore, leading to chilling footage of overwhelmed beaches. One video shows the scale of the dead fish, which extend across the entire beach in Jask, southern Iran. A viewer remarked it’s “what China doesn’t want you to know” as locals blame Chinese fishing companies for the strange sight.

Iranian journalist Heshmat Alavi, who tweeted out the video, singled out Chinese fishermen for the haunting scene, claiming they use “extreme electrofishing (pulse fishing) methods that are destroying the marine life”.

In a viral Twitter thread, he continued: “This is leaving locals who rely on fishing without any way to make ends meet.

“Locals are saying the marine life is being destroyed by Chinese fishing companies.”

This comes after Iran signed a 25-year strategic partnership deal with the Chinese Communist Party last weekend, following accusations that Iran has sold its sovereignty.

It is the latest extension to China’s vast infrastructure project, the Belt and Road initiative.

The deal has been presented as a route for Iran to outmanoeuvre Western sanctions, with China set to buy up large amounts of Iranian oil.

Mr Alavi continued: “These scenes are making Iranians very angry over the regime’s recent signing of a 25-year cooperation agreement with Beijing.

“As more Iranians raise their voice against the Iran-China agreement, it is worth noting that Tehran is allowing Chinese fishing companies use ‘bottom trawling’ techniques in the Gulf of Oman, leaving local fishermen and marine life devastated in SE Iran.

“This is just one example of the mullahs’ regime ruling Iran in cooperation with China.

“Trawling ships are destroying precious marine line in Iran’s southern waters & all with Tehran’s consent.”

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Tens of thousands of pigs dying from African swine fever in Indonesia

African Swine Fever Alert

African swine fever is seeing a resurgence in Indonesia’s southern East Nusa Tenggara province, government officials say, undermining food security and fueling fears that the viral disease could jump to other species.

The disease has done the most damage in China, where tens of millions of pigs have either died from it or been culled since 2018. But it is increasingly wreaking havoc in Southeast Asia after jumping to the region from its northern neighbor.

Since July 2020, tens, or perhaps hundreds, of thousands of pigs in East Nusa Tenggara are said to have died from ASF. The disease seemed to have disappeared from the region in late 2020, before returning in 2021.

Flores, famous for its Komodo dragons, is one of the islands that has been hard hit. Simon Nani, the head of the livestock department in East Flores district, said in mid-March that ASF had killed 35,000 pigs there, up to 40% of the population. His counterpart in nearby Nagekeo district, Klementina Dawo, said her office had recorded 6,048 deaths from the disease. Albert Moang, from the agricultural office in Sikka, another Flores district, said 11,919 pigs there had died since February 2020.

Atong Gomez, a pig farmer in Sikka, said that when the virus began to spread, he sold nearly half of his pigs at a low price. “I panicked,” he told Mongabay, adding, “I cleaned their pen twice a day, sprayed disinfectant and fumigated the pen so that flies” — thought to be one vector of the disease — “wouldn’t come.”

Carolus Winfridus Keupung, the director of Wahana Tani Mandiri, a local nonprofit that works with farmers and fishers, said he believes the death toll is far higher because many pig farmers weren’t reporting the deaths of their animals to authorities. The government, he added, needed to more to prevent the virus from spreading further.

“There must be real action to restrict trade,” he said. “Pigs are dying everywhere, and the community is suffering great losses … If a pig costs 3 million rupiah [$207], tens of billions of rupiah of income are being lost. The government is talking about the Food Estate” — a central government plan to establish large-scale plantations in several provinces — “but people’s food security has been destroyed.”

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Subject to change

Depth: 24 km

Distances: 1528 km E of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia / pop: 187,000 / local time: 23:52:29.1 2021-09-24

894 km SW of Unalaska, United States / pop: 4,400 / local time: 03:52:29.1 2021-09-24
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