Friday, 17 April 2015

#TheGreatUnravelling - 04/16/2015

Just In: Emergency closure of fishery along entire West Coast
Almost no babies surviving since 2011 
― “Catastrophic crash… Population decimated… Crisis… Collapse so severe”
― “Latest in series of alarming die-offs… mass reproductive failures… strange diseases”
Official: “A lot of weird things out there”

16 April, 2015

NY Times, Apr 15, 2015 (emphasis added): [Regulators] approved an emergency closure of commercial sardine fishing off Oregon, Washington and California… Earlier this week, the council shut down the next sardine season… [R]evised estimates of sardine populations… found the fish were declining in numbers faster than earlier believed… [Stocks are] much lower than estimated last year… The reasons are not well-understood.

Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting, April 13, 2015: Ben Enticknap, Oceana senior scientist (1:08:00 in) — “We’ve seen a significant change in recruitment [Recruitment: The number of new young fish that enter a population]. There’s been practically no recruitment in recent years, and this was not expected.”

Undercurrent News, Apr 14, 2015: [A]ccording to the report on the emergency action from the PFMC… “the total stock biomass of Pacific sardine is declining as a result of poor recruitment“… [A California Wetfish Producers Association official said] “little recruitment was observed in 2011-2014.”

Oregonian, Apr 13, 2015: Pacific coast sardines are facing a population collapse so severe[fishing] will be shut down… [The] downward spiral in spite of favorable water conditions has ocean-watchers worried there’s more to this collapse than cyclical population trends. “There are a lot of weird things happening out there, and we’re not quite sure why they aren’t responding the way they should,” said Kevin Hill, a NOAA Fisheries biologist… Fishery managers are adding it to a list of baffling circumstances off the West Coast… NOAA surveys indicate very few juvenile fish made it through their first year. “The population isn’t replacing itself,” Hill said.

SFist, Apr 14, 2015: [T]he population appears decimated… As the Council writes, “temperatures in the Southern California Bight have risen in the past two years, but we haven’t seen an increase in young sardines”… Sardines typically spawn in warmer waters, with cold water decreasing their numbers.

SF Chronicle, Apr 14, 2015: Sardine population collapses… [There's] evidence stocks are going through the same kind of collapse [seen in the 1950s]… The sardine population along the West Coast has collapsed… Causes of crisis — A lack of spawning… was blamed for the decline… Severedownturn… things recently took a turn for the worse… because of a lack of spawning due to poor ocean conditions in 2014… The collapse this year isthe latest in a series of alarming die-offs, sicknesses and population declines in the ocean ecosystem along the West Coast. Anchovies… have also declined [due to] a lack of zooplankton… Record numbers of starving sea lions… Brown pelicans, too, have suffered from mass reproductive failures and are turning up sick and dead… Strange diseases have also been proliferating in the sea…

Monterey Herald, Apr 13, 2015: For the first time in 30 years [sardine fishing] will be banned.

KPCC, Apr 1, 2015: The first time that sardine fishing has been banned since federal management of the fishery began… Many are worried a… catastrophic crash is happening.

Thousands of dead fish found 
floating on lake in China


Thousands of fish, weighing 100 tonnes, have been found dead at a lake in Huizhou City in southern China's Guangdong Province

13 April, 2015

Thousands of animals have died overnight at a commercial fish farm in southern China's Guangdong Province after the lake became polluted.

More than 100 tonnes of dead fish were found floating in the water near Huizhou City on Friday morning by devastated farmer Mr Zhang.

Workers had rushed to clear the lake, using plastic baskets and nets to scoop them out, creating a huge mountain of rotting fish on the shore.

Others were sent to spread 2.5 tons of edible salt to try and restore the chemical imbalance of the lake which had become contaminated with ammonia, reported 
The People's Daily Online.

It may save the few remaining live fish but Mr Zhang, who founded the business in 1996, admitted he was not optimistic. 


A mountain of rotting fish: A team of people have been working to clear the dead fish from the water by piling them up on the nearby shore

The shock death of thousands of fish means he could be facing financial ruin.

The farmer stands to lose over 1 million RMB (£110,000) in potential sales, and claimed he would need at least a decade to recover.

'It's the first time that my fish farming has had such a problem since I started in 1996. I'll need another ten years to make up for this loss,' said Mr Zhang.

'It has taken me years to build the fish numbers up and my one source of income has vanished almost overnight.'

Mr Zhang claims the source of the ammonia may have been fertilizer being used at a nearby farm.

Later Day Manner Falls In 
Thailand, As Fish Rain Over 

14 April, 2015

Later Day manner has fallen on Thailand.  In Thailand Fishes Gets Litters All Over the Streets After Rainfall with many people expressing surprise.

Indeed, passersby have been held in awe as hundreds of fishes had flown to the banks of seashore and on the road.

Reports have it that most of fishes were found dead.

Whilst some people tried to save the fishes, others stood watching in amazement.
It is on record that rainy season in Thailand varies from region to region.

Its rainy season can be classified as May/June to October and the river fishing season in Khao Sok National Park is influenced by the monsoon winds from both the Indian and Pacific Ocean.

From last year - 
Video: Villagers stunned as 
hundreds of fish fall out the 
sky over Sri Lanka

8 April, 2014

They found a total of 50kg worth of dead and alive fish, which is a valued commodity on the island and is believed to be fine to eat

A stunned community in west Sri Lanka were delighted when they were hit by a downpour of raining FISH.

A village in Chilaw reported that a storm had left behind scores of fish lying on roads, grass and roofs after they heard heavy thuds across the district.

The fish, which are fine to be eaten, fell during treacherous weather after scientists believe they were lifted out of the river during strong winds before plummeting back down to the ground.

Scientists said this happens when swirling whirlwinds over relatively shallow water become waterspouts, sucking in almost anything in the water including fish, eels and frogs.

But this isn't the first time the country has been plagued with mysterious bouts of rain - back in 2012, south Sri Lanka encountered a rainfall of prawns when a similar event occured.

A Sperm Whale Washes Ashore in the Bay Area
The dead behemoth that appeared south of San Francisco is "emaciated."
Image Jeff Chiu/AP

16 April, 2015

The Bay Area suffered a massive bummer this week, when the carcass of a nearly 50-foot sperm whale was spied on a beach just south of San Francisco.
The behemoth is still at Mori Point in Pacifica, for anybody who wants to touch it like the guy above. Experts from Sausalito's Marine Mammal Center are cutting it apart for a necropsy and removal, and though cause of death has yet to be established, it looks "emaciated," reports the Associated Press. Here's more:
The animal, which was first spotted Tuesday, is one of 17 dead sperm whales to beach along the North Coast of California during the 40 years that the center has been handling such cases, a spokeswoman said....
In 2008, a 51-foot adult male sperm whale was found washed ashore in Point Reyes, north of San Francisco. Scientists who performed a necropsy found more than 450 pounds of trash in his stomach, which caused his death. The trash was used to create an art exhibit at the center's headquarters to teach visitors about the importance of keeping trash from oceans.
In January, a rare pygmy sperm whale died after beaching itself in Point Reyes. Investigators said it had likely gotten sick and was too weak to swim.

Dead Dolphins In Fukushima Stranding Found With White Radiated Lungs

15 April, 2014

Japanese scientists are saying they have never seen anything like what they discovered after autopsying a massive group of dolphins that ended up dead after being discovered stranded on a beach near the site of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Their lungs were white, which, according to scientists is an indication of loss of blood flow to the organs which is an indication of radiation poisoning.

The translated article comes from EneNews:

Google Translate: Ibaraki Prefecture… for a large amount of dolphin which was launched on the shore… the National Science Museum… investigated… researchers rushed from national museums and university laboratory, about 30 people were the anatomy of the 17 animals in the field. [According to Yuko Tajima] who led the investigation… “the lungs of most of the 17… was pure white ischemic state, visceral signs of overall clean and disease and infections were observed”… Lungs white state, that has never seen before.

Systran: The National Science Museum… investigated circumstance and cause etc concerning the mass dolphin which is launched to the seashore of Ibaraki prefecture… the researchers ran from the museum and the university laboratory… approximately 30 people dissected 17… [Yuko Tajima] of the National Science Museum which directed investigation research worker [said] “the most lung 17 was state with true white, but as for the internal organs being clean”… The lung true white as for state, says… have not seen.

Fukushima Diary, Apr 12, 2015: According to National Science Museum, most of the inspected 17 dolphins had their lungs in ischaemia state… The chief of the researching team stated “Most of the lungs looked entirely white”… internal organs were generally clean without any symptoms of disease or infection, but most of the lungs were in ischaemia state. She said “I have never seen such a state”.
Wikipedia: Ischemia is a vascular disease involving an interruption in the arterial blood supply to a tissue, organ, or extremity that, if untreated, can lead to tissue death.

Many reports have been published on the links between ischemia and radiation exposure:

It has been shown that the ionizing radiation in small doses under certain conditions can be considered as one of starting mechanisms of… IHD [ischemic heart disease].” -Source

“Radiation risks on non-cancer effects has been revealed in the [Chernobyl] liquidators… Recently, the statistically significant dose risk of ischemic heart disease… was published.” -Source

“Incidence of and mortality from ischemic heart disease (IHD) have been studied in a cohort of 12210 workers [at] Mayak nuclear facility… there was statistically significant increasing trend in IHD incidence with total external gamma dose.” -Source

“Numerous studies have been published concerning non cancer diseases in liquidators… Risk of ischemic heart disease… seems increased.” -Source

“In 1990 the International Chernobyl Project has been carried out under the aegis of the IAEA… It is known that the international experts who had taken part in the International Chernobyl Project were aware of the report by the Minster of the Ministry of Health Care of Belarus delivered at an informal meeting arranged by the IAEA… The Belorussian Minister reported about… the worsening of the general health state of the affected population… “Among adults in 1988 there was a two- to fourfold increase, in comparison with preceding years, in the number of persons suffering from… ischemic heart diseases” -Source

“In a study on a Russian cohort of 61,000 Chernobyl emergency workers… a statistically significant risk of ischemic heart disease was observed.” -Source
How do you feel about the findings of the autopsies of the Fukushima Dolphin standing?

Dwindling bird populations in Fukushima
Even as radioactivity diminishes near the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster, negative effects on birds strengthen


15 April, 2015

This is the time of year when birds come out and really spread their wings, but since a disastrous day just before spring's arrival four years ago, Japan's Fukushima province has not been friendly to the feathered. And as several recent papers from University of South Carolina biologist Tim Mousseau and colleagues show, the avian situation there is just getting worse.

Since a few months after the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear catastrophe at Japan's Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant, Mousseau and several co-workers have undertaken a series of bird censuses in contaminated areas. They recently published a paper in the Journal of Ornithology showing results from the first three years of the effort for 57 bird species.

Many populations were found to have diminished in number as a result of the accident, with several species suffering dramatic declines. One hard-hit species was the barn swallow, Hirundo rustica, which suffered large population losses in a dose-dependent manner according to individually measured levels of radiation exposure.

The researchers looked more closely with the barn swallow, trying to isolate the mechanism causing the population decrease with their first two years of data. But as Mousseau, his postdoctoral associate Andrea Bonisoli-Alquati and colleagues reported in a separate recently published study in the journal Scientific Reports, their tests of peripheral erythrocytes in individual barn swallow nestlings failed to show genetic damage as a result of direct-dose radiation effects. Nevertheless, the more detailed study showed a dose-response decrease in both numbers and fraction of juveniles.

"We were working with a relatively small range of background exposures in this study because we weren't able to get into the 'hottest' areas that first summer after the disaster, and we were only able to get to some 'medium-hot' areas the following summer," Mousseau says. "So we had relatively little statistical power to detect those kinds of relationships, especially when you combine that with the fact that there are so few barn swallows left. We know that there were hundreds in a given area before the disaster, and just a couple of years later we're only able to find a few dozen left. The declines have been really dramatic."

Another place in the world that might provide insight into what's now happening in Fukushima is Chernobyl, the scene in 1986 of a devastating release of radioactive materials in Ukraine. Mousseau, as director of the Chernobyl + Fukushima Research Initiative since it was founded in 2000 at Carolina, is uniquely qualified to draw comparisons, having been a leader over the past two decades in establishing a large body of research on the effects of radioactivity on animals living in the wild.

In a separate paper in the Journal of Ornithology, Mousseau and his longtime collaborator Anders Moller of the CNRS (France) discuss how the response of bird species differed between Fukushima and Chernobyl. One contrast between the effects of radiation in the two locales was striking: Migratory birds appear to fare worse in the mutagenic landscape of Chernobyl than year-round residents, whereas the opposite is true in Fukushima.

"It suggests to us that what we're seeing in Fukushima right now is primarily through the direct result of exposure to radiation that's generating a toxic effect -- because the residents are getting a bigger dose by being there longer, they're more affected," Mousseau says. "Whereas in Chernobyl, many generations later, the migrants are more affected, and one possibility is that this reflects differences in mutation accumulation.

"The DNA repair capabilities of migratory species are impaired at least for a short period of time following migration. After they've been flapping their wings, generating oxidative stress as a consequence of exercise, their antioxidant levels -- vitamin E, carotenoids, for example -- are much lower than normal, so the radiation hits them harder than the resident species that don't have that acute depletion effect."

What might be most disheartening to the researchers involved, and bird-lovers in general, is how the situation is progressing in Fukushima. Despite the decline in background radiation in the area over these past four years, the deleterious effects of the accident on birds are actually increasing.

"The relationship between radiation and numbers started off negative the first summer, but the strength of the relationship has actually increased each year," Mousseau says. "So now we see this really striking drop-off in numbers of birds as well as numbers of species of birds. So both the biodiversity and the abundance are showing dramatic impacts in these areas with higher radiation levels, even as the levels are declining."

Oregon Beaches Blanketed by Slimy Purple 'Jellyfish'

Millions of valella vallela - also known as 'purple sails' - have washed up on Oregon's shores in huge numbers. Neely Chalmers of KGW reports

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