Saturday, October 15, 2011

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: RED TIDE - Largest Red Tide Bloom in a Decade Killing Fish and Disorienting Birds Along Texas Coast! UPDATE: Red Tide and Mass Fish Die-Off in Southwest Florida!

Dead fish, disoriented birds, and discolored water are signaling the Texas coast's largest red tide bloom in a decade, with concentrations of the Karenia brevis organism appearing in patches from Galveston down to South Padre Island.

“We haven't had a red tide affect this much of the coast since 2000,” said Meridith Byrd, a red tide biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. “This is a big one.” Blooms of toxic algae occur around the world, but the Karenia brevis species, with its distinctive red nucleus, is unique to the Gulf of Mexico. It's always present, but tends to thrive along shorelines in autumn, after months of hot, dry weather have increased salinity and nutrient levels. The blooms typically start offshore and are carried toward beaches by winds and currents. The biggest concern for humans is the brevetoxin the algae release into the air, which can lead to itchy eyes, nose and throat, as well as coughing, wheezing and troubled breathing. The aerosol is most dangerous for asthmatics and others with respiratory problems — the 2009 bloom at South Padre Island led to an uptick of vacationers and island locals showing up at nearby emergency rooms. The toxin can paralyze the nervous system of fish, making them unable to breathe. A coastwide bloom in 1986 caused millions to wash up on shore. This year's bloom, while extensive, is not expected to be nearly so severe, Byrd said. Reports of the most recent outbreak started in mid-September with reports of dead and stressed fish in the Brownsville Ship Channel area, Boca Chica beach, and the southern end of South Padre Island, with biologists confirming high concentrations of the K. brevis. Subsequent reports led to red tide confirmations from San Luis Pass to the Brazos River, and a few days later at Galveston and Sargent Beach.

The Galveston concentrations, which made for some miserable days for Galveston Island Beach Patrol lifeguards, by Oct. 5 prompted the state Department of State Health Services to close some oyster leases to prevent harvesting of affected shellfish. A DSHS spokeswoman said the leases had not yet reopened. Fish kills have since been reported along the middle and lower coast, affecting all sizes and species, as well as two green sea turtles. Byrd warned that people should not eat fish that wash up dead. In fact, she said, it's illegal to pick them up. She said it's also a bad idea to swim where fish are washing up. Fish caught alive and energetic are safe. As of Wednesday, the tide was in some areas and had waned in others. Parks and Wildlife reported water samples with moderate to high concentrations of K. brevis at several locations along the Texas coast, including areas near Matagorda, Port O'Connor, Mustang Island/Port Aransas, and Padre Island. The blooms will likely persist until rains, winds and currents break them up and wash them away, as they may have done in the bay side of South Padre Island. Coastal ecologist Noemi Matos spent much of Monday surveying a Laguna Madre beach after fishermen reported dead fish. She said that kill appeared to be days old, with water samples coming up clean. “We may have just gotten to the scene a little too late,” she said. “With the rain and everything, it may have washed out.” - My San Antonio.
UPDATE: Red Tide and Mass Fish Die-Off in Southwest Florida!

Meanwhile, red tide and thousands of dead fish are now officially on the beaches of Southwest Florida. We snapped captured pictures of dead fish on the shorelines of Cayo Costa, Cabbage Key, and Ussepa Island.
Officially, the red tide bloom is about two to 12 miles off the Lee and Charlotte coasts from Gasparilla Pass to Captiva in low to medium concentrations in Pine Island Sound. People we spoke to are hoping for the best, but bracing for the worst.

"We got here a couple of hours ago and just noticed how many there were- everywhere," said beachgoer Maureen Petrie. Just two days ago we groups of dead fish from a helicopter off of Cayo Costa. And now, those thousands of dead fish are hitting shore. "It's pretty gross. I'm not even used to the ocean, so to come here and see all these dead fish is kind of unpleasant," said another beachgoer, Eric Fical. The FWC says the fish kill was caused by red tide
. - NBC.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Geological Upheaval - Pacific Ring of Fire!

As we continue to look at Earth changes and the current geological upheaval, here's an interesting examination by the History Channel of the "Pacific Ring of Fire" - the largest region of volcanic activity on Earth, that stretches around the Pacific Ocean from New Zealand, to Japan, to the Aleutians and down through the Andes mountain range of South America.

The new series HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE travels the globe to reveal the geological processes that have shaped our planet. Each episode will look at a single location and examine how the features that we see today have formed over millions of years—whether by colliding continents, volcanic eruption or the abrasive power of vast ice sheets. These processes, which intimately affect the way we live today, have been lost in the mists of time. Using the clues that were left behind, combined with expert evidence from geologists in the field, this series rolls back the millennia to see how the slow but immensely powerful forces of geology have shaped our world. The single longest linear feature on Earth – the “Ring of Fire” circles almost the entire Pacific. It is a ring of active volcanoes from White Island just north of New Zealand, through the South China seas, Japan, Kamchatka, the Aleutians, the Cascades and down through the Andes. Almost 25,000 miles long, it is one of the most awesome sights on Earth. - History Channel.
WATCH: History Channel's How The Earth Was Made - The Ring Of Fire!

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Seismic Swarm Developing in Iceland!

Yesterday, I told you about the large earthquake swarm at the Katla volcano in Iceland, where officials have becomed quite concerned that a major eruption is imminent. Last week, I highlighted the fact that sections of the Reykjanes Ridge, was hit by several tremors the same day.

5.6 Magnitude Earthquake in Reykjavik Ridge.
A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck the region at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 23:02:12 UTC, with an epicentre of 890 km ( 553 miles) southwest of Reykjavik. Then, a magnitude 5.4 earthquake hit the Ridge, at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 23:52:20 UTC, with an epicentre of 901 km ( 559 miles) southwest of Reykjavik. This was followed by a magnitude 5.0 earthquake at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the tremor hit at 00:03:04 UTC, with an epicentre of 890 km ( 553 miles) southwest of Reykjavik. The largest of the tremors, was a magnitude 5.6 earthquake that struck at a depth of 10.2 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 00:39:33 UTC, with an epicentre of 901 km ( 559 miles) southwest of Reykjavik.

Today, it looks like another swarm is developing. There have been 5 earthquakes so far today in Iceland measuring 3 magnitude or higher. This is in addition to the 2 other earthquakes measuring 3 or higher yesterday. The first one hit early this morning with the additional 4 hitting in the past hour, as can be seen from the chart below, they have all been relatively shallow with an average of 1.1 km depth. None have hit near Katla.

    Magnitude 3.0 - Time 01:47:59 - Location 5.3 km N of Brauterholt - Depth 1.1 km
    Magnitude 3.8 - Time 09:03:08 - Location 3.1 km N of Hellisheiðarvirkjun - Depth 1.8 km
    Magnitude 3.8 - Time 09:46:00 - Location 3.3 km N of Hellisheiðarvirkjun - Depth 2.3 km
    Magnitude 3.7 - Time 09:46:01 - Location 2 km W of Hveragerði - Depth 1.1 km
    Magnitude 3.0 - Time 10:13:09 - Location 6.5 km S of Sandgerði - Depth 1.1 km

Volcanoes in that affected area which have been plagued by several severe swarms already this year:

1. Hengill Volcano - Crater rows (803m - 2.634ft)
Current status: dormant (1 out of 5)
Typical eruption style: Effusive (lava flows). Hengill volcano eruptions: none confirmed during historic times

Hengill is the easternmost of a series of four closely spaced basaltic fissure systems that cut diagonally across the Reykjanes Peninsula and lies at the triple junction of the Reykjanes Peninsula volcanic zone, the Western volcanic zone, and the South Iceland seismic zone. Postglacial lava flows surface much of the volcanic system. The latest eruption was radiocarbon dated about 1900 years before present. An eruption in the Hellisheidi area once thought to have occurred around 1000 AD at the time of a meeting of the Icelandic parliament at Thingvellir is now known to have occurred at a vent about 5 km away in the Brennisteinsfjöll volcanic system. Geothermally heated greenhouses, hot springs, and geysers are found at the Hveragerdi thermal area.

2. Grimsnes Volcano - Crater Rows (214 m - 702 ft)
Current status: dormant (1 out of 5)
Typical eruption style: Effusive (lava flows).

Grímsnes volcano volcano eruptions: none during historic times. Grímsnes lava flows cover 54 sq km and were erupted from a group of 11 fissures that produced a series of NE-SW-trending crater rows. The eruptions of the basaltic Grímsnes lavas were restricted to a relatively short interval between about 6500 and 5500 years ago.