Friday, June 7, 2013

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Hundreds Of Dead Carp Mysteriously Found In The Jamestown Reservoir, North Dakota?!

June 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Anglers and those who live along the Jamestown Reservoir are seriously concerned by what they are seeing wash up along the shore.

A European or Asian fish virus may be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of carp in the waters behind Jamestown Dam, according to Gene van Eeckhout, fisheries biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Hundreds of dead carp are appearing, and North Dakota Game and Fish biologists are stumped as to why.

Living on the east side of the reservoir, Jim Schmitt has seen his fair share of fish, but what he sees now is strange to him. "The darndest thing. They were so high on the water, and it looked like they were gasping for air," says Schmitt.

He has also been seeing dead ones floating near shore.

His concerns are the concerns of many who have been vocal to the Game and Fish Department. Fisheries Biologist BJ Kratz says he first started noticing signs of the fish kill as the ice came off, but then he started getting reports that the carp seemed sluggish.

"It's not typical for carp because carp are usually pretty active this time of year and are also easy to spook and reactive when people approach them," says Kratz.

The carcasses also continue to pile up.

Kratz says, "At this point it looks, it's definitely in the hundreds, if not thousands."

WATCH: Hundreds of dead carp reported at Jamestown Dam.

Kratz says there is extra stress on the carp this time of year as they breed, making them more susceptible to disease. It is pertinent for biologists to figure out what disease.

"Anytime something like this happens our concern is with our game fish that we manage, and for, to make sure none of those would be affected."

A team came from Bismarck to take samples to send them to the Fish Health Center in Bozeman, Montana. Kratz says they could be looking at an Asian or European virus. He says, "It is rather uncommon to this region, and it hasn't been documented in North Dakota."

But that is all speculation. For now, the only thing that can be done is wait for the results. The results of the testing should be available by late next week. - Valley News Live.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - 4 Whales Wash Up Dead On The West Coast Of New Zealand, Baffling Scientists?!

June 07, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - Scientists are baffled at what might have killed four whales which washed up over two days on a certain section of a West Coast beach.

Local resident Brittnay Beddoes sent in this image of the Sperm whale. 

All four whales were dead when they washed up at the weekend, and all belonged to different species.

The first was a 6-metre long Cuvier's beaked whale which washed up on Saturday morning at Greymouth's Cobden Beach. It is on the list of threatened species.

Later that day, a huge 15-metre long Sperm whale washed up on the beach at the end of Serpentine Rd, just 14 km south of where the Cuvier's beaked whale was discovered.

On Sunday, a 2-metre long juvenile long-finned pilot whale was discovered on Westport's North Beach, followed by a 3-metre long pigmy sperm whale in the same area.

Department of Conservation marine mammal scientist Don Neale says a quadruple dead-stranding within 48 hours is something he's never heard of before.

"It's certainly unusual and it may just be coincidence," he says. "There were some major storms at sea - that's the only likely reason I can see at the moment."

Necropsies of the whales are unlikely so the individual causes of death will probably remain unknown.

Local iwi Ngati Waiwai has removed the jawbone of the Sperm whale and the remains will be buried on the beach this week.

The jawbone of the Cuvier's beaked whale has been stolen without permission from the iwi or the Department of Conservation and an investigation is underway to find the alleged thief. - 3NEWS.

EXTREME WEATHER: Death Valley Records The First 120-Degree Day Of 2013!

June 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES - High-pressure aloft has taken over the Desert Southwest and the central valley of California, allowing temperatures to heat up to extreme levels into the weekend.

We have a look at some of the locations that are seeing their first 110- or 120-degree readings of 2013.

120-Degree Heat in Death Valley

When it comes to extreme heat, Death Valley, Calif. is king and holds the official title as the hottest place on Earth with an all-time record high of 134 degrees nearly 100 years ago.

On Thursday, Death Valley recorded its first 120-degree day of 2013. Highs in the low 120s are expected on Friday and Saturday as well.

Highs in the 120s are not unusual in Death Valley. In fact, only one single year since 1911 has not seen at least a single day of 120-degree heat. The average annual number of days in the 120s is 18 based on averages from 1981-2010.

Death Valley isn't the only location that has seen a temperature "first" of 2013 this week.

WATCH: Why is Death Valley so Hot?

Who Will See 110s?

Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Reached the 110-degree mark for the first time this year on Thursday. Temperatures are expected to rise into the low 110s on Friday and near 110 on Saturday.
  • Phoenix averages around 18 days of 110-degree heat each year (1981-2010 average).
Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Will get close to 110 degrees Friday into Saturday.
  • On average, temperatures reach 110 or higher around 7 to 8 days per year.
Fresno, Calif. and Redding, Calif
  • Both of these California valley locations could approach or top the 110-degree mark on Saturday.
  • Record high temperatures will be challenged.

- TWC.

ICE AGE NOW: A Year Without Summer - Prolonged Winter Blamed For Thousands Of Dead Fish In Quartz Lake, Alaska?!

June 07, 2013 - ALASKA - “You go around the lake in the shallows, and you see one whitened carcass after another,” said Dean Seibold, who lives on the lake and rents boats to fishermen each summer.

Seibold said he traveled about two miles around the six-mile circumference of the lake and saw hundreds of dead fish. Other boaters reported the same scene along the back side of the lake, he said.

File photo.

Officials at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks started getting reports of dead fish frozen in the ice last week from cabin owners around the lake and suspected there had been a winter die-off, said Tom Taube, sport fish research supervisor. In addition, ice fishermen had been reporting low catch rates for the past month or two, he said.

The magnitude of the die-off, however, didn’t become apparent until the ice went out last weekend, he said.

Biologists don’t know how many fish died or how many are left in the lake, Taube said. As of Tuesday, no biologist has been to the lake to survey the situation.

“It’s pretty broad to say it’s total mortality,” Taube said. “It was a fairly large number of fish that died because based on reports by fishermen nobody has caught much in the winter ice fishery in the past couple of months.”

Earl Malcom, 72, is one of those fishermen. Malcom has been fishing Quartz Lake for 40 years. Seeing dead fish scattered along the shoreline that he usually fishes each spring was tough to take, he said.

“I looked at ’em laying there and cried,” Malcom said. “It’s a sad, sad thing.”



While no tests have been done to see exactly what killed the fish, Taube said it’s almost certain it was lack of oxygen, which he attributed to the long winter that kept thick ice on the lake longer than normal. He called it “the perfect storm of conditions.”

The longer the ice stays on the lake, the more the light penetrates the ice, resulting in the growth of plankton under the ice during the daylight hours, he said. That produces an oxygen deficit at night. In addition, the light triggers the decomposition of last year’s vegetation, which also requires oxygen.

“It’s just competing with the fish for oxygen,” Taube said.

Once the ice is gone, the water begins moving and replenishes the oxygen level in the lake, he said.

Quartz Lake has had similar winterkills in the past but nothing as large scale as what was seen this week, Taube said.

“Based on the past history of Quartz Lake, we’re pretty certain this is winterkill,” Taube said. “If it had been a parasite or bacteria, it wouldn’t have done it just in the wintertime; we would have seen it in the summertime.

“If there was something unique to this case, we’d be pursuing looking for something else,” he said.

Judging from a picture he saw, the dead fish “look like they’ve been dead for a while,” he said. As a result, it’s impossible to determine what killed them because the fish are loaded with bacteria and other organisms.

Plans to restock

The department plans to restock the lake three times this summer with approximately 20,000 catchable-size rainbow trout and arctic char. The first load of 6,000 fish was dumped into the lake Tuesday.

“It’s not a good situation, but it’s nothing that means we have to stop stocking it now unless it’s a recurring event,” Taube said. “We’ll keep an eye on it next year. If it happens repetitively for a couple of years, we might have to refigure how we deal with Quartz Lake.”

Some old-timers like Malcom questioned why Fish and Game doesn’t use aerators to pump oxygen into the lake to prevent die-offs like they do in other states such as Minnesota. Taube said using aerators weakens ice because it creates circulation, which creates a safety concern with people driving on the ice. It’s also expensive because it requires electricity.

“Aerators have been talked about in other parts of the state, but it’s not an area we want to go,” Taube said.

The sight of dead fish littering the shores of the lake, some of which were 24 inches or bigger, is one that Seibold has a hard time justifying, though.

“It’s just a crime that all those big fish are gone,” he said.

While Fish and Game began restocking the lake with catchable-size fish in the 9- to 12-inch range on Tuesday, anglers won’t be pulling any lunkers out of the lake for a couple of years, Taube said.

“There will be fish in the lake, but it just won’t be a trophy fishery that it was,” he said. “People can expect catch rates to be down this year. Definitely the density of fish is down with this kind of winterkill.”

Given time, however, fishing should return to normal, Taube said.

“Quartz Lake is pretty productive,” he said. “As long as it doesn’t winterkill for few years, we’ll be back to where we were.”

As of Tuesday, Taube said he hasn’t heard of winterkills in any other lakes around the area. - News Miner.

THE WAR ON NATURE: Deep Sea Trash Litters The Ocean Floor - Up To 6,500 Meters Below The Surface, Damaging Marine Ecosystems At An Alarming Rate!

June 07, 2013 - SEA - The mention of ocean pollution usually triggers searing images of birds and turtles choked by bags, fasteners and other debris floating at the ocean surface. But thousands of feet below, garbage also clutters the seafloor, with as yet unknown consequences for marine life, a new study finds.

Deep-sea currents wrapped this plastic bag around a gorgonian coral almost 7,000 feet (2,115 m) below the ocean surface in Astoria Canyon, off the coast of Oregon.  MBARI

"It's completely changing the natural environment, in a way that we don't know what it's going to do," said Susan von Thun, a study co-author and senior research technician at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in Monterey, Calif.

For the past 22 years, MBARI researchers have explored the deep ocean seafloor from California to Canada and offshore of Hawaii. Video researchers tagged every piece of trash seen during the deep-sea dives, cataloging more than 1,500 items in all. Sparked by a recent study on trash offshore of Southern California, scientists at MBARI decided to analyze the database of ocean debris they had gathered. The results were published May 28 in the journal Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers.

After reviewing every video clip that showed debris, and compiling where and when the debris was found, the researchers discovered plastics were the most common seafloor trash.

"Unfortunately for me, I wasn't so surprised," said von Thun, who works in the MBARI video lab. "I've seen plenty of trash as I've been annotating video."

A discarded tire sits on a ledge 2,850 feet (868 m) below the ocean surface in Monterey Canyon off
the central California coast. MBARI

More than half of the plastic items were bags. A deep-sea coral living nearly 7,000 feet (2,115 meters) off the Oregon Coast had a black plastic bag wrapped around its base, which will eventually kill the organism, von Thun said.

The second biggest source of ocean trash was metal — soda and food cans. Other common types of debris included rope from fishing equipment, glass bottles, cardboard, wood and clothing.

Because most of the ocean pollution came from single-use plastic bottles and cans, von Thun and her co-authors hope the research will inspire more people to reduce, reuse and recycle.

"The main way to combat this problem is to prevent all this stuff from getting into the ocean to begin with," von Thun told OurAmazingPlanet. "We really have to properly dispose of items, reduce our use of single-use items and recycle."

Changing seascape
The arrival of shoes, tires and fishing gear in the deep sea is a big change for deep-sea marine life. Their environment is mostly soft mud, so hard surfaces are rare, and sea creatures colonize the trash, von Thun said. For example, MBARI is following the effects wrought by a shipping container that fell overboard into Monterey Canyon in 2004. But even a discarded tire can make a home for certain sea creatures at 2,850 feet (868 meters) below the ocean surface.

WATCH: Deep sea trash litters the ocean floor.

In Monterey Canyon, a deep, winding gorge offshore of Central California, trash collects in the canyon's outer bends or in topographic highs or lows, just like in rivers on land, von Thun said. Currents also trap trash behind obstacles, such as dead whale carcasses.
"We think the canyon dynamics and the currents are actually helping to distribute the plastic and metal to deeper areas," von Thun said.

With only 0.24 percent of Monterey Canyon explored in the past two decades by MBARI, there could be more trash hidden in the canyon's depths, the researchers said. - NBC News.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Fish Kills Worry Residents On Padre Island, In Texas?!

June 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Discolored water and dead fish floating is becoming a concern for residents out on The Island.

Padre Island Fish Kills Concern Residents.

An Algae Bloom, caused from all of the runoff from the recent rain events, have caused a Brown Tide to enter into Laguna Madre. Texas Parks and Wildlife says they got reports of this Brown Tide at the end of May, and it still hasn't gone away.

What a Brown Tide does is cause the oxygen in the water to decrease. The lack of oxygen kills the fish creating a not so nice view for residents.

"It's kinda gross," said Scott Underbrink about the dead fish.

With dead fish floating around the canals, residents say this creates a new stinky issue.

"It's really just the smell, it is. Then the seagulls came and took advantage of it. Took their opportunity then all the seagull droppings," said resident Joe Hall.

WATCH: Padre Island Fish Kills Concern Residents.

Parents who live on the canals say this Brown Tide is even starting to effect their children. Parents say sight of these dead fish is so disturbing to their children that their little ones are refusing to do anything near the canal.

"They don't wanna go out on the back deck. My younger daughter has a little fort back there. She went to her fort and she came back inside because of the dead, floating fish," said Hall.

Texas Parks and Wildlife says nature should take care of itself and this Brown Tide should be clearing up soon.

Brown Tide isn't toxic to humans, but officials with Texas Parks and Wildlife say if you see dead fish in the water... do not go for a swim. - KZTV.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Irish Chronicles Reveal Links Between Cold Weather And Volcanic Eruptions!

June 07, 2013 - VOLCANISM - Medieval chronicles have given an international group of researchers a glimpse into the past to assess how historical volcanic eruptions affected the weather in Ireland up to 1500 years ago.

By critically assessing over 40,000 written entries in the Irish Annals and comparing them with measurements taken from ice cores, the researchers successfully linked the climatic aftermath of volcanic eruptions to extreme cold weather events in Ireland over a 1200-year period from 431 to 1649.

The eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Credit: Austin Post, USGS.

Their study, which has been published today, 6 June, in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters, showed that over this timescale up to 48 explosive volcanic eruptions could be identified in the Greenland Ice Sheet Project (GISP2) ice-core, which records the deposition of volcanic sulfate in annual layers of ice.

Of these 48 volcanic events, 38 were associated, closely in time, with 37 extreme cold events, which were identified by systematically examining written entries in the Irish Annals and picking out directly observed meteorological phenomena and conditions, such as heavy snowfall and frost, prolonged ice covering lakes and rivers, and contemporary descriptions of abnormally cold weather.

Lead author of the study, Dr Francis Ludlow, from the Harvard University Center for the Environment and Department of History, said: "It's clear that the scribes of the Irish Annals were diligent reporters of severe cold weather, most probably because of the negative impacts this had on society and the biosphere.

"Our major result is that explosive volcanic eruptions are strongly, and persistently, implicated in the occurrence of cold weather events over this long timescale in Ireland. In their severity, these events are quite rare for the country's mild maritime climate."

Through the injection of sulphur dioxide gas into the stratosphere, volcanic eruptions can play a significant role in the regulation of the Earth's climate. Sulphur dioxide gas is converted into sulphate aerosol particles after eruptions which reflect incoming sunlight and result in an overall temporary cooling of the Earth's surface.

Whilst the global effects of recent eruptions are quite well-known, such as the Mount Pinatubo eruption almost 22 years ago (15 June 1991), less is known about their effects on climate before the beginning of instrumental weather recording, or their effects on regional scales; the Irish Annals provided an opportunity to explore both of these issues.

The Irish Annals contain over one million written words and around 40,000 distinct written entries, detailing major historical events on an annual basis, and providing both systematic and sustained reporting of meteorological extremes.

The dating and reliability of the Annals can be gauged by comparing reported events to those which are independently known, such as solar and lunar eclipses.

"With a few honourable exceptions, the Irish record of extreme events has only been used anecdotally, rather than systematically surveyed and exploited for the study of the climate history of Ireland and the North Atlantic, and so the richness of the record has been largely unrecognized," continued Dr Ludlow.

Although the effect of big eruptions on the climate in summer is largely to cause cooling, during the winter, low-latitude eruptions in the tropics have instead been known to warm large parts of the northern hemisphere as they cause a strengthening of the westerly winds that brings, for example, warmer oceanic air to Europe; however, this study identified several instances when low-latitude eruptions appeared to correspond to extreme cold winters in Ireland.

One example is the 1600 eruption in Peru of Huaynaputina, which the researchers found, against expectations, to be associated with extreme cold winter weather in Ireland in the following years.

"The possibility that tropical eruptions may result in severe winter cooling for Ireland highlights the considerable complexity of the volcano-climate system in terms of the regional expression of the response of climate to volcanic disturbances.

"It is on the regional scale that we need to refine our understanding of this relationship as ultimately, it is on this scale that individuals and societies plan for extreme weather," continued Dr Ludlow. - PHYSORG.

THE WAR ON NATURE: Large Numbers Of Fish Dying In The Chalakudy River In India - Protests Mount Against Firm Over Fish Deaths?!

June 07, 2013 - INDIA - While the expert committee report on fish dying in large numbers in  the Chalakudy River has not yet  been released,  public protest is mounting against the Nitta Jelatin Company, accusing it of letting untreated effluents from its plant in Kathikkudam into the river and causing the deaths.

File Image.

The Nitta Gelatin India Limited Action Council, which has been spearheading the agitation against alleged disposal of untreated effluents from the plant  into the river, has intensified its protest since the fish deaths were reported. And people of  the five panchayats  of Puthanve­likara,  Annamanada, Kadukutty, Kuzhoor and Parakkadavu  went on hartal on Tuesday  protesting against the  pollution of the Chalakudy river.

“The legislators, Pollution Control Board officials and Kerala Water Authority (KWA) are being apathetic in dealing with this serious problem. If stringent measures are not taken to prevent further pollution of the river, several panchayats of the two districts will be hit by drinking water scarcity,”said M.P Shajan, member of Puthan­velikara panchayat. But according to initial reports of the state Pollution Control Board, effluents from the plant may not have led to the  fish dying in the river. - Deccan Chronicle.