Wednesday, December 19, 2012

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Thousands of Herring Found Mysteriously Dead in Iceland?!

December 19, 2012 - ICELAND - The Icelandic Marine Research Institute has ruled out that the herring that swam ashore in large numbers and died in Kolgrafafjörður fjord in West Iceland last week were killed by infection, from which the fish stock has suffered for some time. The infection has reportedly not progressed.

© Ljósmynd/Róbert Arnar Stefánsson.
Captain Runólfur Guðmundsson from Grundarfjörður has put forth the theory that a cold current below the surface of the fjord is to blame, reasoning that it may have been so cold that ice crystals formed inside the fish and killed it, Fréttablaðið reports.

Þorsteinn Sigurðsson, manager of the Marine Research Institute’s exploitable marine stock division did not dismiss Runólfur’s theory but stated that the ocean temperature had been around zero, which the herring is supposed to be able to handle.

Bjarni Sigurbjörnsson, a resident at the farm Eiði by Kolgrafafjörður, said whales and birds have taken advantage of the incident and been feasting on the buffet of nature.

Biologist Róbert Arnar Stefánsson from Stykkishólmur went to the site on Saturday to study the circumstances, reports.

He rules out that the herring died due to lack of food as it didn’t look undernourished and that the herring was driven ashore by hunting killer whales or seals because of the sheer quantity.

“People are leaning towards the theory of a sudden cooling. It’s not the least likely explanation,” Róbert commented, adding he hoped the Marine Research Institute’s research would lead to a definite conclusion.

The condition of the herring in the fjord was examined from a boat last weekend. According to, an immense amount of dead herring was found on the ocean floor but no sign of life. - Iceland Review.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: "It's Going To Be A Bad Season" - 'Hypothermic' Sea Turtles Rescued From South Shore Beaches in Massachusetts?!

December 19, 2012 - UNITED STATES - Dozens of sea turtles, all of them near death, rely on 'round-the-clock care from a team of experts. The animals will call a re-purposed building on the grounds of the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy home until they're ready to go back to the sea. It's an expensive journey, but one advocates say is vital if the species are to survive. 

Rescued sea turtle. (Photo from Chris Gobeille).
"There's 85 endangered and threatened species swimming around us right now," explains Connie Merigo, the Director of the New England Aquarium's rescue program. "We do think it's going to be a bad season."  Already this year, close to 200 sea turtles have stranded along the Cape. They include loggerheads and Kemp's Ridley turtles. It is the "highest number of sea turtle strandings we've ever experienced in the history of the aquarium" says Merigo. No one knows for sure why the animals get stranded, but all of them are hypothermic when they are found. In some cases, their body temperatures fall into the 40s, and their heart-rate drops to one or two beats per minute. Even so, with proper care, most can be rehabilitated.  A new wrinkle this season: the creatures are showing up in new locations.

Typically they strand on the Cape and will turn up as far away as Truro and Provincetown. But this week, two made near-unprecedented appearances on the South Shore. One was found in Scituate on Monday and other in Hull on Tuesday.  According to Aquarium staff, people who live on Cape Cod generally know what to do when they find a stranded sea turtle on the beach. But with more of them showing up on the South Shore, there are concerns that people there won't know what to do.  "Folks on the South Shore aren't used to seeing turtles on the beach and may think that a hypothermic sea turtle is actually dead," says Merigo.  Or even worse, they may think it's a good idea to throw it back into the ocean.  In fact, you should call the New England Aquarium directly. They have a hotline set up at 617-973-5247; either they will head to the scene, or they will ask local animal control to help out. In any event, the animal will be delivered to Quincy for rehab where it can begin the long and expensive road to recovery. - CBS Boston.

WATCH: Sea Turtles Rescued From South Shore Beaches.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Pacaya Volcano Erupts in Guatemala - Spewing Ash and Gas Into the Air!

December 19, 2012 - GUATEMALA - Pacaya Volcano, located 47 kilometers south of the capital, has had increased activity in recent days with ash and gas being released into the air, said the Institute of Volcanology (Insivumeh).

On Wednesday, the institute issued a preventive alert and recommended the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conrad) to keep monitoring the 2,500-meter-tall volcano, located between the departments of Guatemala City and Escuintla. “The activity yesterday [Tuesday] was a manifestation of reactivation, so people should be aware of developments in coming days,” Insivumeh experts said.

Conrad also released a statement on its website that recommends people “to keep informed and be aware of official information provided by authorities.” The last eruption of Pacaya occurred in May 2010 when a powerful explosion sent ashes to three departments, including the capital, and forced the closing of La Aurora International Airport for five days. One person was killed, thousands were injured and $500 million in losses were reported. - Tico Times.