Category: Mass Animal Deaths


Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/10-0002-F1.gif

 

 

A) Greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) with white fungal growth around its muzzle, ears, and wing membranes (photograph provided by Tamás Görföl). B) Scanning electron micrograph of a bat hair colonized by Geomyces destructans. Scale bar = 10 µm.

http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/16/8/1237-F1.htm

Authors  :  Gudrun Wibbelt, Andreas Kurth, David Hellmann, Manfred Weishaar, Alex Barlow, Michael Veith, Julia Prüger, Tamás Görföl, Lena Grosche, Fabio Bontadina, Ulrich Zöphel, Hans-Peter Seidl, Paul M. Cryan, and David S. Blehert

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Biological Hazard USA State of North Carolina, [Rutherford and Henderson counties] Damage level Details

 

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RSOE EDIS

Biological Hazard in USA on Thursday, 10 April, 2014 at 10:38 (10:38 AM) UTC.

Description
A fungal disease of unknown origin that is killing hibernating bats in eastern North America appears to be spreading in Western North Carolina, according to biologists monitoring the epidemic. White-nose syndrome has been confirmed in at least seven mountain counties, but Biologist Gabrielle Graeter of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said this week, “I think it’s all over Western North Carolina at this point.” Last year, the fungal disease – named for the white growths covering the muzzles of affected bats – was found to have killed a tri-colored bat at the Nature Conservancy’s 186-acre Bat Cave Preserve in Rutherford and Henderson counties. But Graeter said the fungus that causes the disease is now more widespread than those seven counties that had confirmed cases as of 2013 – Avery, Buncombe, McDowell, Haywood, Yancey, Transylvania and Rutherford. “To confirm that it’s in a county, we have to find the fungus has invaded the skin tissue of a bat,” she said. “We’re largely depending on someone in the public finding a freshly dead bat and they have to know to call us and submit it for testing. So we have gaps on our maps just because of the testing methodology.” The Wildlife Resources Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been monitoring caves and mines throughout the state that are known as bat hibernating sites. Last winter, the partners found bat numbers in some hibernacula had declined by 95 percent. In North Carolina, the fungal disease has taken its biggest toll on species such as the little brown bat, northern long-eared bat (which has been proposed for endangered species status) and the tri-colored bat, Graeter said. “Before white-nose syndrome, tri-colored and little brown bats were considered the most abundant species we have and now we’re seeing these really precipitous declines,” she said. To slow the spread of the disease, wildlife officials have been working with the caving community to restrict spelunking during the bat’s winter hibernation, and to decontaminate their clothing and equipment to prevent transmitting the fungus between sites. “The professional cavers have been very cooperative and willing to take measures to minimize disturbance to bats,” Graeter said. “It’s more a problem on the recreational side of things. I think people just aren’t aware of the situation.” The occurrence of the same fungus in healthy bats in Europe suggests it may have originated in Europe, and was accidently transmitted to bats in North America that lack immunity. In the U.S., white-nose syndrome was first documented in New York in 2006 and has spread throughout the East and as far west at Oklahoma. Bats affected with white-nose syndrome don’t always have obvious fungal growth, but they may display abnormal behavior within and outside of their hibernacula. Scientists speculate the fungus may awaken the bats from their winter slumber, burning precious fat reserves. Although the outlook for cave-hibernating bats is dire, Graeter said there are some hopeful signs. The fungus has been detected on two species of big-eared bats, she said, “but we do not have any evidence of these two species getting the disease or any kind of die-off from this.” Biologists are also studying a variety of biological controls to see if the bat species that are faring better might have oils, bacteria or other fungi on their bodies that may be inhibiting the white-nose fungus.
Biohazard name: White-noise Syndrome (bat)
Biohazard level: 2/4 Medium
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, influenza A, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, and HIV. “Routine diagnostic work with clinical specimens can be done safely at Biosafety Level 2, using Biosafety Level 2 practices and procedures. Research work (including co-cultivation, virus replication studies, or manipulations involving concentrated virus) can be done in a BSL-2 (P2) facility, using BSL-3 practices and procedures. Virus production activities, including virus concentrations, require a BSL-3 (P3) facility and use of BSL-3 practices and procedures”, see Recommended Biosafety Levels for Infectious Agents.
Symptoms:
Status: confirmed

 

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ECO Watch

Devastating Bat-Killing Disease Spreads From Eastern U.S. to Midwest States

Center for Biological Diversity | April 12, 2014 10:00 am

The devastating bat-killing disease that has already killed more than 7 million bats across the Eastern U.S. has spread to Wisconsin and Michigan, state wildlife officials announced this week. During routine surveys of bat hibernating areas late this winter, biologists discovered signs of the malady known as white-nose syndrome that was first documented in upstate New York in 2006. Subsequent lab testing confirmed the presence of the disease in the two upper Midwest states, bringing to 25 the total number of states where the disease is present. White-nose syndrome has also spread to five Canadian provinces.

“White-nose syndrome has now reached the last strongholds of the once-abundant little brown bat and several other species,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Given the rapid spread and devastating consequences of this disease, it’s incredibly urgent that we put more resources into finding a cure and saving our bats.”

White-nose syndrome is the worst wildlife health crisis in recent memory, killing up to 100 percent of bats in affected caves. There is no known cure for the disease, which has afflicted seven bat species so far and has pushed several to the brink of regional extinction. Last year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection for the northern long-eared bat, one of the species hardest hit by the disease. The other bat species hit by the disease are the little brown bat, tricolored bat, eastern small-footed bat, federally endangered Indiana bat, federally endangered gray bat and the big brown bat.

 

 

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Oceana Report Sheds Light On Staggering By-Catch Problem In U.S. Fisheries

 

Posted: 03/20/2014 5:37 pm EDT Updated: 03/20/2014 5:59 pm EDT

 

 

 

 

 

That fish dish at your favorite neighborhood bistro may be hiding a gruesome secret.

“When you buy fish at a grocery store or restaurant, you might also be getting a side order of sea turtle or dolphin to go with it,” said Dominique Cano-Stocco, Oceana‘s campaign director of responsible fishing, referring to the large number of dead sea creatures tossed by fishermen each year.

According to a new Oceana report, United States fisheries discard about 17 percent to 22 percent of everything they catch every year. That amounts to a whopping 2 billion pounds of annual by-catch — injured and dead fish and other marine animals unintentionally caught by fishermen and then thrown overboard. This includes endangered creatures like whales and sharks, as well as commercially viable fish that may have been too young or too damaged to bring to port.

“By-catch is one of the biggest challenges facing the U.S. today,” Cano-Stocco said. “It’s one of the largest threats to the proper management of our fisheries and to the health of our oceans and marine ecosystems.” Due to underreporting, by-catch numbers are probably an underestimate, she explained.

Released Friday, Oceana’s report strives to highlight the need to document by-catch numbers and develop better management strategies to prevent the high level of unnecessary slaughter in our oceans.

shark

Bull shark trapped in fishing net

 

The report identifies nine of the worst by-catch fisheries in the nation. These fisheries — defined as groups of fishermen that target a certain kind of fish using a particular kind of fishing gear in a specific region — are reportedly responsible for more than half of all domestic by-catch; however, they’re only responsible for about 7 percent of the fish brought to land, the report notes.

Some of these fisheries reportedly discard more fish than they keep; others are said to throw out large amounts of the very fish species they aim to catch. California fishermen who use drift gillnets (walls of netting that drift in the water) to capture swordfish, for example, reportedly throw out about 63 percent of their total catch.

Between 2008 and 2012, about 39,000 common molas, 6,000 sharks, as well as hundreds of seals, sea lions and dolphins, were seriously injured or killed in the California drift gillnet fishery, Oceana notes.

bycatch

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Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards

NEWVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) –

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Biological Hazard USA State of Pennsylvania, Newville [Green Spring Trout Farms] Damage level Details

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RSOE EDIS

Biological Hazard in USA on Tuesday, 11 March, 2014 at 11:10 (11:10 AM) UTC.

Description
March 1 is the beginning of the season at Green Spring Trout Farms, but right now instead of harvesting, they are doing serious damage control after nearly 10,000 fish mysteriously died. “I don’t think anyone would ever do something like this on purpose,” hatchery owner Doug Holt said. He suspects manure runoff from one of several farms in the Newville area may have seeped into the underground spring that supplies his water. Complicating the issue, he said, is the high amount of limestone in that part of Cumberland County. “Somebody found a sinkhole with their manure and I don’t how much of it had to run in for this to happen, but you know, it’s unfortunate.” He’s now borrowed about 20 aerators to continually pump water into troughs for his surviving fish, which are swimming in murky water that is normally crystal clear. “They’re actually picking the water up and splashing it back onto the surface of the raceway to add oxygen to increase oxygen levels in the water to keep the fish alive,” he said. The Pa. Department of Environmental Protection is investigating and has run field tests at the North Newton Township farm twice so far. A spokesperson told abc27 they have discovered a definite contamination, but have not yet pin-pointed the source. Holt said a Shippensburg University professor’s tests have already returned a positive result for bacteria found in manure, which makes sense since farmers usually begin spreading in the beginning of March. Holt said the loss of the fish has already cost him about $20,000, plus fuel and electricity bills are in the hundreds each day. He said he hopes to soon see an end in sight. “If we can’t supply the fish when people want them, they’re going to go elsewhere and we lose the business anyway,” he said. “So it’s kind of a compounded issue.” Holt purchased the farm in 2012, but has worked there for the past 15 years. He said he has never experienced anything like this as long as he’s been there.
Biohazard name: Mass. Die-off (fishes)
Biohazard level: 2/4 Medium
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, influenza A, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, and HIV. “Routine diagnostic work with clinical specimens can be done safely at Biosafety Level 2, using Biosafety Level 2 practices and procedures. Research work (including co-cultivation, virus replication studies, or manipulations involving concentrated virus) can be done in a BSL-2 (P2) facility, using BSL-3 practices and procedures. Virus production activities, including virus concentrations, require a BSL-3 (P3) facility and use of BSL-3 practices and procedures”, see Recommended Biosafety Levels for Infectious Agents.
Symptoms:
Status: confirmed

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Nearly 10,000 fish turn up dead at Newville hatchery

Posted: Mar 10, 2014 9:50 PM CST Updated: Mar 10, 2014 9:54 PM CST

NEWVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) –

March 1 is the beginning of the season at Green Spring Trout Farms, but right now instead of harvesting, they are doing serious damage control after nearly 10,000 fish mysteriously died.

“I don’t think anyone would ever do something like this on purpose,” hatchery owner Doug Holt said.

He suspects manure runoff from one of several farms in the Newville area may have seeped into the underground spring that supplies his water. Complicating the issue, he said, is the high amount of limestone in that part of Cumberland County.

“Somebody found a sinkhole with their manure and I don’t how much of it had to run in for this to happen, but you know, it’s unfortunate.”

He’s now borrowed about 20 aerators to continually pump water into troughs for his surviving fish, which are swimming in murky water that is normally crystal clear.

Read More Here

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PennLive.com

Cause of massive Newville-area fish kill proving difficult to determine

Fish2.JPG
Doug Holt said he battling to save the remaining fish at his Green Springs Trout Farms in Newville. (Jeremy Arias, PennLive.com)

By Matt Miller | mmiller@pennlive.com

on March 10, 2014 at 1:10 PM, updated March 10, 2014 at 10:31 PM

The cause of a major fish kill at a private Newville-area trout hatchery is proving to be elusive, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection said Monday.

Lisa Kasianowitz said experts from DEP and the Cumberland County Conservation District have twice investigated the problem reported this month by Green Spring Trout Farms.

Both investigations on March 2 and Sunday showed lethally low dissolve oxygen levels in the spring that feeds the hatchery, but it could not be determined what caused the dearth of oxygen that was asphyxiating droves of fish, she said.

“No immediate source of the contamination was identified,” Kasianowitz said in an e-mail.

 

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Earth  Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards

Mystery in Kildare after discovery of 250 dead frogs

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Biological Hazard Ireland Co Kildare, [Curragh area] Damage level Details

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RSOE EDIS

Biological Hazard in Ireland on Saturday, 01 March, 2014 at 04:54 (04:54 AM) UTC.

Description
Hundreds of dead frogs have been reportedly found in a lake in the Curragh (County Kildare, Leinster Province). Water samples were collected yesterday – 25 Feb 2014 – after an estimated 250 to 300 dead or dying frogs were found in the area, writes Paula Campbell. An overnight analysis of the water sampled by the Herpetological Society of Ireland returned results that are within the normal range for a healthy habitat however. The primary clinical signs of the frogs discovered were dry, crackly skin around the neck area. There was also red discolouration in the skin of some of the frogs, known as common frogs, in what has been described as a ‘mass die off’ of the frogs in the lake. There are a number of possible causes of this huge frog die-off including being a target for rats during the spawning seasons as they become an easy target because they are worn out after all the frog reproduction. The Ranavirus, which causes internal haemorrhaging could also be a cause, alongside chytrid, a pathogenic water fungus which invades the immune system, giving the animals a crusty appearance. Skin swabs have been taken for DNA analysis in an effort to identify the root cause of this mass mortality occurrence.
Biohazard name: Mass. Die-off (frogs)
Biohazard level: 2/4 Medium
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, influenza A, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, and HIV. “Routine diagnostic work with clinical specimens can be done safely at Biosafety Level 2, using Biosafety Level 2 practices and procedures. Research work (including co-cultivation, virus replication studies, or manipulations involving concentrated virus) can be done in a BSL-2 (P2) facility, using BSL-3 practices and procedures. Virus production activities, including virus concentrations, require a BSL-3 (P3) facility and use of BSL-3 practices and procedures”, see Recommended Biosafety Levels for Infectious Agents.
Symptoms:
Status: confirmed

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Leinster Leader

Mass die off of Frogs in the Curragh

Dead Frogs found at a lake in the Curragh

Dead Frogs found at a lake in the Curragh

Hundreds of dead frogs have been reportedly found in a lake in the Curragh.

Water samples were collected yesterday after an estimated 250 to 300 dead or dying frogs were found in the area writes Paula Campbell.

An overnight analysis of the water sampled by the Herpetological Society of Ireland returned results that are within the normal range for a healthy habitat however.

The primary symptoms of the frogs discovered were dry, crackly skin around the neck area. There was also red discolouration in the skin of some of the frogs, known as common frogs, in what has been described as a ‘mass die off’ of the frogs in the lake.

Read More Here

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Mystery in Kildare after discovery of 250 dead frogs

Mystery in Kildare after discovery of 250 dead frogs

View PhotoTheJournal.ie – Mystery in Kildare after discovery of 250 dead frogs

A LAKE IN The Curragh, Kildare, has been tested this morning after hundreds of frog corpses were found around it.

The Herpetological Society of Ireland collected samples from the frogs and the water this morning to send for analysis after obtaining an emergency licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) last night. There were between 250 and 300 dead frogs discovered.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today, Rob Gandola, a member of the society, said there are a number of possible causes of this huge frog die-off:

    Predators. Sometimes frogs are targeted during spawning season by animals such as rats because they are a bit distracted by the task in hand and are then easy targets because the are worn out after all the frog love-making.

 

  • The Ranavirus, which causes internal haemorrhaging. Gandola said it is “particularly nasty” to amphibians and can be difficult to detect.
  • Chytrid, a pathogenic water fungus which invades the immune system, giving the animals a crusty appearance.

 

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Acidic ocean deadly for Vancouver Island scallop industry

 

CBC News

Posted: Feb 25, 2014 8:58 PM PT Last Updated: Feb 26, 2014 7:04 PM PT

High acidity levels in B.C.'s oceans mean millions of the shellfish die before they reach full maturity.

High acidity levels in B.C.’s oceans mean millions of the shellfish die before they reach full maturity.

The deteriorating health of B.C.’s oceans is impacting not only the province’s marine life, but also its economy.

 

Millions of shellfish are dying off before they can be harvested at Island Scallops, near Parksville, B.C., due to increased acidity levels in the ocean.

 

One-third of the workforce at Island Scallops — 20 people — are being laid off because the business has lost more than 10 million scallops before they were able to reach maturity since 2009.

 

“It’s obviously kicked our feet out from underneath us,” said CEO Rob Saunders.

 

Island Scallops

Island Scallops, near Parksville, B.C., is laying off 20 employees because high acidity in the oceans has meant the loss of millions of scallops.

 

He said low pH levels in the water appear to be the root of the problem.

 

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“Acidic Waters Kill 10 Million Scallops Off Vancouver”

 
By Kiley Kroh on February 26, 2014 at 11:16 am
 

 

A worker harvests oysters for Taylor Shellfish in Washington, another company grappling with the effects of ocean acidification.

A worker harvests oysters for Taylor Shellfish in Washington, another company grappling with the effects of ocean acidification.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

 

A mass die-off of scallops near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island is being linked to the increasingly acidic waters that are threatening marine life and aquatic industries along the West Coast.

 

Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops, estimates his company has lost three years worth of scallops and $10 million dollars — forcing him to lay off approximately one-third of his staff.

 

“I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive,” Saunders told The Parksville Qualicum Beach NEWS. “It’s that dramatic.”

Ocean acidification, often referred to as global warming’s “evil twin,” threatens to upend the delicate balance of marine life across the globe.

 

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Struggling shellfish farmers eye genomic research

Industry looks for answers to cope with rising carbon dioxide levels, increased acidity

 
 
 
Struggling shellfish farmers eye genomic research
 

High acidity is being blamed for a mass die-off of B.C. scallops.

Shellfish farmers are appealing to the federal and provincial governments to support genomic research in an effort identify oysters, mussels and scallops suited to withstand the west coast’s rapidly changing marine environment.

Oyster and scallop farmers from Oregon right up the coast of British Columbia are experiencing massive die-offs of animals associated with rising carbon dioxide levels and increasing acidity in local waters.

“We’ve been aware of these problems for quite a while and we just have to learn to operate our farms under new parameters,” said Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association. “Genomics offers us an opportunity to develop an animal that is more capable of adapting to this new pH level.”

Shellfish farms employ about 1,000 people in mostly rural parts of the coast and generate about $33 million in sales each year, Stevenson said.

 

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Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards – Mass Animal Deaths

 

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February 26 2014 05:39 PM Biological Hazard France Brittany Region, [Finistere area] Damage level Details

 

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Biological Hazard in France on Wednesday, 26 February, 2014 at 17:39 (05:39 PM) UTC.

Description
Weakened and exhausted by successive storms, more than 21,000 dead seabirds washed up on the beaches of the Atlantic coast since late January, an unprecedented “massacre” for at least a century, announced today the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO). Until February 24, 21,341 dead seabirds are registered in the Basque country in southern Finistère and 2,784 sent in rescue centres. Atlantic puffin and guillemot are the most affected species, and to a lesser extent, razorbill.
Biohazard name: Mass. Die-off (birds)
Biohazard level: 1/4 Low
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses including Bacillus subtilis, canine hepatitis, Escherichia coli, varicella (chicken pox), as well as some cell cultures and non-infectious bacteria. At this level precautions against the biohazardous materials in question are minimal, most likely involving gloves and some sort of facial protection. Usually, contaminated materials are left in open (but separately indicated) waste receptacles. Decontamination procedures for this level are similar in most respects to modern precautions against everyday viruses (i.e.: washing one’s hands with anti-bacterial soap, washing all exposed surfaces of the lab with disinfectants, etc). In a lab environment, all materials used for cell and/or bacteria cultures are decontaminated via autoclave.
Symptoms:
Status: confirmed

 

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 Huffpost Green

 

21,000 Birds Killed In France By Slew Of Storms

Posted: 02/26/2014 2:28 pm EST Updated: 02/26/2014 2:59 pm EST
Main Entry Image
Photo taken on February 10, 2014 shows the bodies of puffins washed up on a beach in Sainte-Marie-de-Re, western France, after heavy storms. The Atlantic storms that have buffeted Europe in recent days have killed at least 5,000 sea birds on the French coast, half of them puffins. Most of the birds whose bodies have been washed up on beaches between the Pyrenees and Brittany died of exhaustion or starvation as a result of days of gale-force winds, which made it impossible for them to fish. | XAVIER LEOTY via Getty Images

Thousands of birds have been killed in France. The culprit? Winter storms.

In a statement, the League for the Protection of Birds said that violent storms in January and February were responsible for the deaths of 21,341 birds. The country has apparently not seen a bird “slaughter” that large since 1900, the Agence France-Presse reports.

An initial estimate released earlier this month put the death toll at 5,000. But once the organization enlisted volunteers to help with the count from the start of the month through Feb. 24, the number rose dramatically.

Of the species of sea birds affected, the Atlantic puffin had the highest numbers of deaths, with more than 12,229 deceased found. Large numbers of the common murre (or black guillemot) and razor-billed auk were also killed. The league expects the overall death toll to rise as it continues to track the bodies through the end of the month.

 

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Storms wash up 500 dead seabirds: Bodies of guillemots and razorbills recovered after they died of exhaustion due to the weather

  • Storms over the past month have made it hard for birds to hunt and feed
  • Majority of dead birds were washed up at Chesil Cove in Dorset
  • But numbers pale in comparison to 15,000 puffins found dead in France

By Daily Mail Reporter

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Hundreds of seabirds have been washed up along the south-west coast after dying of exhaustion in the recent storms.

The bodies of almost 500 birds, mostly guillemots and razorbills, have been recovered from the beaches of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset after they perished at sea.

Experts at the Dorset Wildlife Trust said consistent gale-force storms in the English Channel during the past month had made it very hard for the creatures to hunt and feed.

Devastated: The bodies of almost 500 birds, mostly guillemots - like the one pictured in this stock image - and razorbills, have been recovered from the beaches of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset after they perished at sea

Devastated: The bodies of almost 500 birds, mostly guillemots – like the one pictured in this stock image – and razorbills, have been recovered from the beaches of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset after they perished at sea

 

The malnutrition coupled with flying in ferocious winds meant they became exhausted and died.

Birds fared even worse across the Channel, where 15,000 puffins were found dead on the shores of France.

The French League for the Protection of Birds said the tragedy could have a devastating effect on the coming breeding season.

The majority of the dead birds have washed up at sheltered Chesil Cove in Dorset, having being swept across Lyme Bay by south westerly winds.

Some conservationists have claimed the birds have been killed by a pollutant similar to palm oil but this has been ruled out by the Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT).

 

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LiveScience

Woolly Mammoths and Rhinos Ate Flowers

arctic
The Arctic had much more diverse flora than previously thought during the Pleistocene Era
Credit: Mauricio Anton

Woolly mammoths, rhinos and other ice age beasts may have munched on high-protein wildflowers called forbs, new research suggests.

And far from living in a monotonous grassland, the mega-beasts inhabited a colorful Arctic landscape filled with flowering plants and diverse vegetation, the study researchers found.

The new research “paints a different picture of the Arctic,” thousands of years ago, said study co-author Joseph Craine, an ecosystem ecologist at Kansas State University. “It makes us rethink how the vegetation looked and how those animals thrived on the landscape.”

The ancient ecosystem was detailed today (Feb. 5) in the journal Nature.

Pretty landscape

In the past, scientists imagined that the now-vast Arctic tundra was once a brown grassland steppe that teemed with wooly mammoths, rhinos and bison. But recreations of the ancient Arctic vegetation relied on fossilized pollen found in permafrost, or frozen soil. Because grasses and sedges tend to produce more pollen than other plants, those analyses produced a biased picture of the landscape. [Image Gallery: Ancient Beasts Roam an Arctic Landscape]

To understand the ancient landscape better, researchers analyzed the plant genetic material found in 242 samples of permafrost from across Siberia, Northern Europe and Alaska that dated as far back as 50,000 years ago.

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  • Scientists started noticing the mass deaths in June of 2013
  • Both wild starfish and those in captivity have been affected by the mysterious phenomenon
  • Entire populations have been wiped out in Puget Sound

By Afp and Daily Mail Reporter

|

Starfish have been mysteriously dying by the millions in recent months along the US west coast, worrying biologists who say the sea creatures are key to the marine ecosystem.

Scientists first started noticing the mass deaths in June 2013. Different types of starfish, also known as sea stars, were affected, from wild ones along the coast to those in captivity, according to Jonathan Sleeman, director of the US Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center.

‘The two species affected most are Pisaster ochraceus (purple sea star or ochre starfish) and Pycnopodia helianthoides (sunflower sea star),’ he wrote in a statement in December.

Mystery: Millions of starfish on the west coast are dying - and scientists have no idea why

Mystery: Millions of starfish on the west coast are dying – and scientists have no idea why

The sunflower sea star is considered among the largest starfish and can span more than a meter in diameter.

The most commonly observed symptoms are white lesions on the arms of the sea star. The lesions spread rapidly, resulting in the loss of the arm. Within days, the infection consumes the creature’s entire body, and it dies.

Entire populations have been wiped out in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington state, in the Salish Sea off Canada’s British Columbia as well as along the coast of California. The mortality rate is estimated at 95 percent.

Scientists who have spent decades studying the local ecosystem have yet to identify the cause.

‘What we currently think is likely happening is that there is a pathogen, like a parasite or a virus or a bacteria, that is infecting the sea stars and that compromises in some way their immune system,’ Pete Raimondi, chair of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told AFP.

Wiped out: Entire populations of starfish have been wiped out in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington state

Wiped out: Entire populations of starfish have been wiped out in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington state

Then, the creatures become more susceptible to bacteria which is “causing a secondary infection that causes most of the damages that you see.’

A barometer of sea health

The 2013 phenomenon has not been observed solely along the West Coast; a smaller outbreak also killed East Coast sea stars last year.
Read More Here

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What’s killing all the starfish on the West Coast?

By Jean-Louis Santini, AFP

Posted:   02/01/2014 01:40:39 PM PST | Updated:   a day ago
A starfish clings to a rock near Haystack Rock during low tide Saturday, July 31, 2010, in Cannon Beach, Ore.

A starfish clings to a rock near Haystack Rock during low tide Saturday, July 31, 2010, in Cannon Beach, Ore. (Rick Bowmer/AP Photo)

Starfish have been mysteriously dying by the millions in recent months along the West Coast, worrying biologists who say the sea creatures are key to the marine ecosystem.

Scientists first started noticing the mass deaths in June 2013. Different types of starfish, also known as sea stars, were affected, from wild ones along the coast to those in captivity, according to Jonathan Sleeman, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center.

“The two species affected most are Pisaster ochraceus (purple sea star or ochre starfish) and Pycnopodia helianthoides (sunflower sea star),” he wrote in a statement in December.

The sunflower sea star is considered among the largest starfish and can span more than a meter in diameter.

The most commonly observed symptoms are white lesions on the arms of the sea star. The lesions spread rapidly, resulting in the loss of the arm. Within days, the infection consumes the creature’s entire body, and it dies.

Entire populations have been wiped out in Puget Sound off the coast of Washington state, in the Salish Sea off Canada’s British Columbia as well as along the coast of California. The mortality rate is estimated at 95 percent.

Read More Here

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Fox News Latino - Fair & Balanced
  • Whales Peru.jpg

At least 500 dolphins were found dead in the past few weeks on different beaches in northern Peru and the cause of death is still under investigation, media reports said.

The Peruvian Sea Institute, or Imarpe, sent a team of scientists to investigate why the dolphins beached themselves in the northern regions of Lambayeque and Piura, the El Comercio newspaper reported.

Other beachings of dolphins occurred in the past two years in northern Peru.

The team covered a 142-kilometer (88-mile) stretch of coast on Jan. 28-29, traveling from Pimentel, a resort city in Lambayeque, to the southern part of the reserve in Illescas, located in Piura, the newspaper said, citing officials.

Experts found at least 400 beached dolphins, with the discovery coming after about 100 other dolphins beached themselves in recent weeks.

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500 dolphins die in northern Peru

AT least 500 dolphins have been found dead in the past few weeks on different beaches in northern Peru and the cause of death is still under investigation, media reports say.

The Peruvian Sea Institute, or Imarpe, sent a team of scientists to investigate why the dolphins beached themselves in the northern regions of Lambayeque and Piura, the El Comercio newspaper reported.

Other beachings of dolphins occurred in the past two years in northern Peru.

The team covered a 142-kilometre stretch of coast on January 28-29, travelling from Pimentel, a resort city in Lambayeque, to the southern part of the reserve in Illescas, located in Piura, the newspaper said, citing officials.

Experts found at least 400 beached dolphins, with the discovery coming after about 100 other dolphins beached themselves in recent weeks.

Fishermen told the Imarpe team that the dolphins were caught in nets regularly and drowned, the newspaper said.

The scientists, however, confirmed that some young and adult dolphins died at sea and others arrived on the beaches near death.

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FARM NEWS

Pathogenic plant virus jumps to honeybees


by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 24, 2014


Toxic viral cocktails appear to have a strong link with honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious malady that abruptly wiped out entire hives across the United States and was first reported in 2006. Israel Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV), Chronic Paralysis Virus (CPV), Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV), Deformed Wing Bee Virus (DWV), Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV) and Sacbrood Virus (SBV) are other known causes of honeybee viral disease.

Researchers working in the U.S. and Beijing, China report their findings in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

The routine screening of bees for frequent and rare viruses “resulted in the serendipitous detection of Tobacco Ringspot Virus, or TRSV, and prompted an investigation into whether this plant-infecting virus could also cause systemic infection in the bees,” says Yan Ping Chen from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, an author on the study.

“The results of our study provide the first evidence that honeybees exposed to virus-contaminated pollen can also be infected and that the infection becomes widespread in their bodies,” says lead author Ji Lian Li, at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science in Beijing.

“We already know that honeybees, Apis melllifera, can transmit TRSV when they move from flower to flower, likely spreading the virus from one plant to another,” Chen adds.

Notably, about 5% of known plant viruses are pollen-transmitted and thus potential sources of host-jumping viruses. RNA viruses tend to be particularly dangerous because they lack the 3′-5′ proofreading function which edits out errors in replicated genomes. As a result, viruses such as TRSV generate a flood of variant copies with differing infective properties.

One consequence of such high replication rates are populations of RNA viruses thought to exist as “quasispecies,” clouds of genetically related variants that appear to work together to determine the pathology of their hosts. These sources of genetic diversity, coupled with large population sizes, further facilitate the adaption of RNA viruses to new selective conditions such as those imposed by novel hosts. “Thus, RNA viruses are a likely source of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases,” explain these researchers.

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Bee Deaths May Stem From Virus, Study Says

The mysterious mass die-offs of honeybees that have wiped out roughly a third of commercial colonies each year since 2006 may be linked to a rapidly mutating virus that jumped from tobacco plants to soy plants to bees, according to a new study.

The research, reported Tuesday in the online version of the academic journal mBio, found that the increase in honeybee deaths that generally starts in autumn and peaks in winter was correlated with increasing infections by a variant of the tobacco ringspot virus.

The virus is found in pollen that bees pick up while foraging, and it may be spread as the bees mix saliva and nectar with pollen to make “bee bread” for larvae to eat. Mites that feed on the bees may also be involved in transmitting the virus, the researchers said.

Among the study’s authors are leading researchers investigating the bee deaths at the Agriculture Department’s laboratories in Beltsville, Md., as well as experts at American universities and at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing.

Their research offers one explanation for the phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, in which bees have died at more than twice the usual rate since it was identified seven years ago. But most researchers, including the study’s authors, suspect that a host of viruses, parasites and, perhaps, other factors like pesticides are working in combination to weaken colonies and increase the death rate.

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