Fire Earth

Earth is fighting to stay alive. Mass dieoffs, triggered by anthropogenic assault and fallout of planetary defense systems offsetting the impact, could begin anytime!

Posts Tagged ‘die-off’

Die-off of Large Whales Continues in Gulf of Alaska

Posted by feww on October 1, 2015

Dozens of whales found dead in Gulf of Alaska

At least 34 large whales including humpback, fin and gray whales have been found dead around the islands of the western Gulf of Alaska and the southern shoreline of the Alaska Peninsula since May 2015.

NOAA declared the recent deaths an unusual mortality event (UME) in August. An UME is a stranding event that is unforeseen, involving a significant die-off of a marine mammal population, and demanding immediate response.

“NOAA Fisheries scientists and partners are very concerned about the large number of whales stranding in the western Gulf of Alaska in recent months,” said Dr. Teri Rowles, NOAA Fisheries’ marine mammal health and stranding response coordinator.

“Large whale UMEs are the most difficult UMEs to deal with, principally because the animals are floating and rarely beached and we have a difficult time getting to the carcasses to actually examine them.”

Biotoxins cannot be ruled out, despite one sample testing negative, Rowles added. “It’s my understanding that sea surface water and air temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska have been high, and that always concerns us because that means there’s probably a change in overall pathogen exposure—possibly HABs and other factors.”

“It takes a fair amount of time to pull data together even if the event is over, and a lot of deliberation and analyses have to happen in order to determine what’s going on,” Rowles said. “It could be quite a period of time before we actually have an answer, if indeed we end up with a definitive answer for this UME.”

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Mass Fish Die-off in Lake Cajititlan, Mexico

Posted by feww on August 19, 2015

About 60 tons of fish die in Lake Cajititlan, Jalisco, Mexico

About a million dead fish washed up on the shores of Lake Cajititlan near the city of Guadalajara in Jalisco state, western Mexican, local media reported.

Officials say a wastewater treatment plant may have dumped untreated effluent in the lake thereby reducing the amount of oxygen in the water and suffocating the popoche chub freshwater fish.

In 2014, about 200 tons of dead popoche were removed from the lake.

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“Largest Extinction Event” Caused by “Acid Oceans”

Posted by feww on April 12, 2015

Earth’s “worst die-off” caused by “drop in ocean pH” —Report

Massive amounts of carbon dioxide released during colossal volcanic eruptions in Siberia may have turned the world’s oceans dangerously acidic 252 million years ago, causing a global environmental catastrophe that killed more than 90 percent of all species, according to a new study published Thursday.

“The largest mass extinction in Earth’s history occurred at the Permian-Triassic boundary 252 million years ago. Several ideas have been proposed for what devastated marine life, but scant direct evidence exists,” says the study.

“Now, locked in limestone that was formed in shallow seawater offshore of the supercontinent Pangaea, scientists [say they have] have found an isotopic signal to support a sharp drop in pH,” according to a report summary.

The volcanoes spewed trillions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, some of which was dissolved in the oceans, lowering the pH and dangerously acidifying the water and weakening marine creatures’ ability to form calciferous shells.

“It appears that, although the oceans buffered the acidifying effects of carbon release from contemporary pulses of volcanism, buffering failed when volcanism increased during the formation of the Siberian Traps. The result was a widespread drop in ocean pH and the elimination of shell-forming organisms.”

The eruptions, thought to be the most powerful explosions occurred over the past 500 million years, lasted for a million years, spanning the boundary between the Permian and and Triassic Period, and resulting in the extinction event that occurred over a period of 60,000 years, said the researchers.

Permian-Triassic extinction event supposedly exceeded even the K-T extinction [officially, Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event] that occurred 66 million years ago and that allegedly erased the dinosaurs and many other animals, i.e, 75% of all species.

‘Ocean acidification and the Permo-Triassic mass extinction’


Ocean acidification triggered by Siberian Trap volcanism was a possible kill mechanism for the Permo-Triassic Boundary mass extinction, but direct evidence for an acidification event is lacking. We present a high-resolution seawater pH record across this interval, using boron isotope data combined with a quantitative modeling approach. In the latest Permian, increased ocean alkalinity primed the Earth system with a low level of atmospheric CO2 and a high ocean buffering capacity. The first phase of extinction was coincident with a slow injection of carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean pH remained stable. During the second extinction pulse, however, a rapid and large injection of carbon caused an abrupt acidification event that drove the preferential loss of heavily calcified marine biota.

M. O. Clarkson, S. A. Kasemann, R. Wood, T. M. Lenton, S. J. Daines, S. Richoz, F. Ohnemueller, A. Meixner, S. W. Poulton, E. T. Tipper
Science 10 April 2015:
vol. 348 no. 6231 pp. 229-232
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0193

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“Spooky” Disease Turning Starfish to “Slime”

Posted by feww on November 5, 2013

“Star wasting disease” hits dozens of coastal sites from southeast Alaska to Orange County, California

The spooky disease is causing record numbers of the marine animals to lose their limbs and turn to slime in a matter of days along the U.S. West Coast, said a report.

“It’s pretty spooky because we don’t have any obvious culprit for the root cause even though we know it’s likely caused by a pathogen,” said Pete Raimondi, chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California at Santa Cruz’s Long Marine Lab.

star wasting disease
Star wasting disease. Image credit: Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring program at the University of California at Santa Cruz. More images …

Sea star wasting disease is a general description of a set of symptoms that are found in sea stars.  Typically, lesions appear in the ectoderm followed by decay of tissue surrounding the lesions, which leads to eventual fragmentation of the body and death.  A deflated appearance can precede other morphological signs of the disease.  All of these symptoms are also associated with ordinary attributes of unhealthy stars and can arise when an individual is stranded too high in the intertidal zone (for example) and simply desiccates,”  according to a report by the Pacific Rocky Intertidal Monitoring Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

“True” wasting disease will be present in individuals that are found in suitable habitat, often in the midst of other individuals that might also be affected.  The progression of wasting disease can be rapid, leading to death within a few days, and its effects can be devastating on seastar populations. The proximal cause of the disease, when pathological studies have been done, is typically a bacterium (vibrio), although a recent wasting event on the east coast of the United States has been attributed to a virus.  The ultimate cause is not clear although such events are often associated with warmer than typical water temperatures as was the case for the major die off in southern California in 1983-1984 and again (on a lesser scale) in 1997-98. Following the 1983-1984 event, the ochre star, Pisaster ochraceus, was virtually absent along southern California shorelines for years.

Wasting in Pisaster ochraceus from Alaska through California

As of Summer, 2013, there is evidence that we are at the onset of another Wasting event and one that is particularly troubling because of its spatial extent. MARINe monitoring groups have documented Wasting in Pisaster ochraceus from Alaska through California (see interactive map for specific locations).  Two common attributes for many of the sites are: (1) the period prior to Wasting was characterized by warm water temperatures, and (2) the effects are dramatic.

The current outbreak killed up to 95 percent of hundreds of starfish in a tide pool in Santa Cruz, the report quoted Raimondi as saying.

At least 10 species of sea stars have shown signs of the disease since June, this year, said Raimondi, adding that he was unable to estimate how many millions of starfish on the West Coast might be affected.

“We’re way at the onset now, so we just don’t know how bad it’s going to get,” he said.

Pisaster ochraceus feed on mussels thus managing the growth of the species in the ocean, which would otherwise multiply out of control and disrupt biodiversity.

Recent Links to Marine Die-offs

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Blizzard Kills 80,000 Cattle in S. Dakota

Posted by feww on October 14, 2013

6,000 SD ranches lose 80,000 cattle to early-autumn blizzard

Some 6,000 ranching operations have suffered catastrophic losses from a statewide snowstorm in South Dakota, the country’s 6th largest state in livestock production, with nearly 4 million head of cattle.

Many parts of South Dakota reported record snowfall totals for the entire month of October over the weekend.

The massive snowstorm took ranchers by surprise hitting just days after 80-degree weather, and before they had a chance to move their herds from less-protected summer grazing lands, said a report.

“Thousands of head had been recently relocated here from Texas and New Mexico to escape punishing droughts in those states.”

Up to  20 percent of all cattle were killed in some parts of the state, said Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.

“Some ranchers lost all their cattle. They’ve yet to find one alive… They’re facing absolute destruction,” she said.

Many ranchers worry that with the federal government shutdown, they’ll receive no compensation for their catastrophic losses.

“A lot of the government agencies that we would normally be turning to for those answers are furloughed. So there’s this sort of timing issue that’s enhancing the frustration out there in cattle country.” Jodie Anderson, executive director of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association said.

animal die-off SD
Bloated carcasses of 80,000 head of cattle, some huddled in groups, litter miles upon miles of South Dakota grazing lands. Many ranchers worry that with the federal government shutdown, they will receive no compensation for their catastrophic losses. (Image Source: via Xinhua). More images…

Die-off Double Whammy

“The most immediate concern is proper disposal of the dead livestock, which state law says must be burned, buried or rendered within 36 hours — for the health not only of surviving herds but also for people,” said a report.

“That can be a significant source of disease spread, so we want to make sure those carcasses are burned, buried or rendered as quickly as possible,” South Dakota’s state veterinarian, told reporters.

In addition to tens of thousands of calves being killed, thousands more cows that would have delivered calves next year also died in the blizzard, said South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, warning that the effects of catastrophe would be felt for many years to come.

“And the stress of the storm will leave its mark on surviving herds, the South Dakota State University Agricultural Extension Service said, leaving the remaining cattle vulnerable to ruinous diseases with names like infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, bovine respiratory syncytial virus and bovine viral diarrhea virus.” The report said.

south-dakota cattle die-off -A cow carcass lies partially buried in snow in South Dakota, strung out along field fences with her black hooves poking up. (Butte County Sheriff’s Department/ October 7, 2013 via LATimes.)

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