Monday, 27 January 2014

'Sick seals everywhere"

Scientists present links between unusual Alaska seal deaths and Fukushima fallout
  • Skin lesions, hair loss, lethargy —
  • Pulsed release’ when built-up radionuclides were set free as ice melted
  • Wildlife health implications” due to radiation exposure discussed

26 January, 2014

Alaska Marine Science Symposium (pdf), Jan. 20-24, 2014 (emphasis added): 2011 Fukushima Fall Out: Aerial Deposition On To Sea Ice Scenario And Wildlife Health Implications To Ice-Associated Seals (Dr. Doug Dasher, John Kelley, Gay Sheffield,  Raphaela Stimmelmayr) — On March 11, 2011 off Japan’s west coast, an earthquake-generated tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant resulting in a major nuclear accident that included a large release of airborne radionuclides into the environment. Within five days of the accident atmospheric air masses carrying Fukushima radiation were transiting into the northern Bering and Chukchi seas.During summer 2011 it became evident to coastal communities and wildlife management agencies that there was a novel disease outbreak occurring in several species of Arctic ice-associated seals. Grosssymptoms associated with the disease included lethargy, no new hair growth, and skin lesions, with the majority of the outbreak reports occurring between the Nome and Barrow region. NOAA and USFWS declared an Alaska Northern Pinnipeds Usual Mortality Event (UME) in late winter of 2011. The ongoing Alaska 2011 Northern Pinnipeds UME investigation continues to explore a mix of potential etiologies (infectious, endocrine, toxins, nutritious etc.),including radioactivity. Currently, the underlying etiology remains undetermined. We present results on gamma analysis (cesium 134 and 137) of muscle tissue from control and diseased seals, anddiscuss wildlife health implications from different possible routes of exposure to Fukushima fallout to ice seals. Since the Fukushima fallout period occurred during the annual sea ice cover period from Nome to Barrow, a sea ice based fallout scenario in addition to amarine food web based one is of particular relevance for the Fukushima accident. Under a proposed sea ice fallout deposition scenario, radionuclides would have been settled onto sea ice. Sea ice and snow would have acted as a temporary refuge for deposited radionuclides; thus radionuclides would have only become available for migration during the melting season and would not have entered the regional food web in any appreciable manner until breakup (pulsed release). The cumulative on-ice exposure for ice seals would have occurred through externalinhalation, and non-equilibrium dietary pathwaysduring the ice-based seasonal spring haulout period for molting/pupping/breeding activities. Additionally, ice seals would have been under dietary/metabolic constraints and experiencing hormonal changes associated with reproduction and molting.

 Left: Location of sickened seals; Right: Blue line is radioactive plume from Fukushima in mid-March 2011

Two of the four authors will be appearing on an Alaska radio program this Tuesday January 28 to discuss radiation from Fukushima:

Radiation from Fukushima, APRN (Alaska Public Radio Network), Jan. 24, 2014: They’re having trouble sealing up the leaking nuclear power plants in Japan and they’re also having trouble disclosing what is going on there. Is this a reason to distrust Alaska seafood? [...] GUESTS: Professor Doug Dasher, Environmental Oceanographer, University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Science — Dr. John Kelley, Professor Emeritus, University of Alaska Fairbanks, former Director, Naval Arctic Research Laboratory — Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air). [...] LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. [...]

Reports: White ‘goo’ everywhere in Alaska seal, crows won’t touch it… yet they eat people’s roofs
  • Slime in ones mouth, kidney almost black
  • Another appeared to change color
  • Hairless one seen recently: “We all still have sick seals here!”

26 January, 2014

Local Environmental Observers (LEO) Network, Oct. 24, 2013: Hairless seal near Shishmaref— Shishmaref Alaska. October 19, 2013 (seals, subsistence) My friend and her husband shot a spotted seal at the mouth of Serpentine River on Saturday Oct. 19th as they were pulling it in the boat they notice it was a hairless seal, she didn’t have anything to take a picture with. Just to let you know we all still have sick seals here! [...]

Local Environmental Observers (LEO) Network, Updated Oct. 8, 2013: Sick spotted seal — Eek, Alaska, April 12, 2013 (marine mammal) [...] hunter reported that he had caught a spotted seal that he thought was sick. He then proceeded to gut the marine animal and found there was white puss or goo like substance along the muscle tissue everywhere.  [...] a very small bit of the fat was chewed on and nothing else. We have crows, they are known to eat just about anything, even silicone off the roof… this animal is not being touched. [...]

Local Environmental Observers (LEO) Network, May 29, 2012: Unusual bearded seal harvested — Shishmaref, May 29, 2012 (sea mammal) One of our local hunters, hunting about 14 miles west of Shishmaref, reports shooting a regular Bearded Seal [...] The first thing the hunter visually noticed was a clear slime within the mouth [...] upon butchering there was hardly any fat, and further butchering, the liver was described as small than normal, approximately 1/2 the size of a normal liver for that size. The next thing they noticed was the one side kidney was approximately twice as big as the other, and that the bigger kidney had the appearance of darker color, and also most black. [...]

Local Environmental Observers (LEO) Network
, May 19, 2012: Discolored seal with sores on side flipper — Shishmaref, May 19, 2012 11:30 PM, (sea animal) This ringed seal [...] seems to [have] a BB size lump on one of the forearms, and showing evidence of sores on one side flipper. Hopefully this seal will bring us closer to understanding what may be causing the illness and disease that our marine mammals are being affected by. According to researchers, this is only the second seal that is discolored, the other came from Russia, colored orange. [...]

Nikita Ovsyanikov, Russian Academy of Sciences, March 2012: Almost all diseased seals found on Wrangel Island beaches were only partially consumed by polar bears. [It] is very different from how they eat normal carcasses [...]

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