What's Killing The Animals?

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Mysterious Disease Kills 400 Sheep in Mongolia

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Mysterious Disease Kills 400 Sheep in Mongolia

Recombinomics Commentary
June 7, 2005

>> According to the New China net reported that, the Mongolian emergency case bureau person in charge said, since June, in the above two counties several households herd common people's sheep has appeared gives off heat, losses of appetite and so on the symptom, after 23 days one after another died, at present more than 20 herdsmen's flock of sheeps have received the infection, but had not discovered the person infects case of illness. (Abundant news boxun.com) <<

It's sheep flu. They've had chicken flu, then duck flu, now it's sheep flu.

:?
 

JamesWhitehead

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Save the albatross race claims lives of seventeen albatrosses.

I have a vision of seventeen ancient marriners sporting large white feathery pendants from their necks.

Albatrosses die in charity race

Robert Booth
Saturday June 11, 2005
The Guardian

For centuries it has been considered bad luck if a mariner kills an albatross. Now, with 17 of the birds thought to have perished in a charity race starting in the Southern Ocean, it seems gambling on them may be just as unlucky.

The celebrity-backed race had been funded by the bookmaker Ladbrokes to highlight the threat to the species from badly managed longline fishing, which uses hundreds of hooks on lines up to 80 miles long and claims the lives of 300,000 albatrosses a year.

But after little more than a month of their 6,000-mile migration flight from Tasmania to South Africa, it is feared that none of the competing juvenile Tasmanian Shy albatrosses has survived.

Avocet, the bird sponsored by the RSPB, had led the race, including others backed by Michael Parkinson, Ellen MacArthur and Johnny Vegas, who named his albatross Eighteen Stone of Idiot.

In a grim twist, the probable cause of the birds' demise appears to be the fishing technique the race was organised to highlight.

Tim Nevard, project director of the race, said: "We are witnessing a real environmental disaster in the Southern Ocean this year, the evidence being revealed by the data gathered by the Ladbrokes.com Big Bird Race being truly tragic.

"Mother Nature has been the harshest of judges - underlining, if ever one needed to, the absolute urgency in curtailing the catastrophic additional effects of longlining in order to allow enough birds to survive to reach breeding age."

The RSPB bird Avocet was named the default victor, having made the furthest progress towards South Africa. All income generated from betting on the race will be donated to BirdLife International's Save the Albatross Fund.

Albatross mortality on this scale has never before been scientifically recorded and the Big Bird Race has been the only formal study on migrating juvenile albatrosses.

John O'Reilly, the managing director of Ladbrokes eGaming, said: "Customers who have backed Avocet will be paid out, but we're also offering them the opportunity to donate their winnings, along with ours, to seabird conservation."
 

lopaka

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Update on the vanishing pelicans from last year:

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 568#413568

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/viewt ... 790#469790


Pelicans return, but why did they leave suddenly?

Saturday, June 18, 2005; Posted: 1:59 p.m. EDT (17:59 GMT)

CHASE LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, North Dakota (AP) -- From an airplane a half-mile above white pelican nesting grounds here, the giant birds are hard to miss.

Some are nesting, some are soaring. The birds, measuring 6 feet from bill to tail and weighing up to 20 pounds each, look like moving patches of snow on the islands of Chase Lake.

Wildlife officials estimate 18,850 breeding adults have returned to this 4,385-acre refuge in central North Dakota, which had been known for a century as the home of the largest nesting colony of white pelicans in North America.

But this time last year, the nesting grounds were empty, leaving an ornithological mystery that biologists say may never be solved.

Nearly 28,000 birds took off last summer. The rookery was littered with eggs and chicks that did not survive.

Pelicans began returning in early April, and biologists hope they will stay put through September, caring for their hatchlings and feasting on small fish and foot-long salamanders from nearby prairie potholes.

"The good news is the pelicans have returned and no birds have left that we're aware of," said Ken Torkelson, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bismarck. "We'd happier if 30,000 birds returned, but on a disappointment scale, this ranks very low."


The white pelican is one of the largest birds in North America, with a wingspan of nearly 10 feet. The bird lives about 25 years.

Biologists have been doing aerial surveys of the nesting grounds since 1972, using photographs scanned into a computer program to count the exact number of breeding birds. This year's breeding population is the lowest since 1997, when 18,364 birds were counted.

The birds abandoned the nesting ground before a survey could be taken last year. In 2000, biologists recorded 35,466 pelicans, a record.

Dave Bolin, a manager at the refuge, said the high number of pelicans five years ago may have been more than the area could support.

"That may have been unnaturally high and maybe last year was a natural correction," Bolin said. "But we try not to discount anything on why they gave up their nesting effort last year."

Wildlife officials have checked air, water and soil quality at the nesting grounds. They also checked for diseases, predators and other possible factors.

Biologists this month are attaching electronic tracking equipment to 10 pelicans at the refuge to monitor their movements when they leave the colony, said Marsha Sovada, a biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center.

"Hopefully, it will give us more insight as to what's going on," she said.

Sovada said the adult pelicans are "acting perfectly normal -- just as they were before last year's event."

Long-range video surveillance cameras and extra crews are monitoring the pelicans, and fences and signs have been installed to keep out predators and people.

Medina, a town of about 330 people about 15 miles south of Chase Lake, has an image of a pelican painted on its water tower.

Bradley Moser, the city operations manager, said the pelicans' disappearance last year has lured more bird watchers to the area this year.

He said it's easy to spot pelicans as they fly from the refuge searching for food. One had to be shooed out of town, for fear it may have snapped at a child, he said.

"Everything seems back to normal, by George," Moser said. "They're back and wandering around all over. And they look healthier this year -- their feathers seem brighter."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/06 ... index.html
 

lopaka

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Hundreds Of Birds Found Dead On Beaches

Environmental Experts Investigating Mysterious Deaths

POSTED: 6:11 pm EDT July 1, 2005
UPDATED: 1:24 am EDT July 3, 2005

Environmental experts are baffled by the discovery of hundreds of birds found dead on beaches in Volusia County, Fla.

Of nearly 300 Sherwaters found on the shoreline, only four have survived, Local 6 News reported.

"Something strange is going on here, making some beachgoers uncomfortable," Local 6 News reporter Vanessa Medina said. "It's a mystery illness causing a different kind of attention (at the beach)."

"We've had 299 different Sherwaters blown into Volusia County beaches," Marine Science Center spokesman Michael Brothers said. "They're just exhausted and underweight and that is where the mystery lies."

Sherwaters rarely come ashore, so the discovery of the birds on the beaches is very strange, according to the report.

"They travel thousands of miles every year and right now should be with their friends in the North Atlantic, far from here, near Greenland," Medina said.

Officials are not sure if the four birds found alive on the beach will survive.

"We are trying to maximize, when we do handle them, give them the maximum amount of food that we can without overstressing the animal," environmental specialist Chris Wise said.

Brothers has sent biological material to be tested in the search for a cause of the bird's deaths.

Copyright 2005 by Internet Broadcasting Systems and Local6.com.

http://www.local6.com/news/4676989/detail.html
 

TheQuixote

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like lambs to the slaughter...

Shades of Far from the Madding Crowd here:

Turkish sheep die in 'mass jump'

Turkish shepherds watched in horror as hundreds of their sheep followed each other over a cliff, say Turkish newspaper reports. First one sheep went over the cliff edge, only to be followed by the whole flock, according to the reports.

More than 400 sheep died in the 15-metre fall - their bodies cushioning the fall of 1,100 others who followed.

The sheep belonged to villagers in the eastern Van province. Papers say the sheep were worth around £42,000 in all.

"Every family had an average of 20 sheep," one villager told the Aksam daily newspaper.

"But now only a few families have sheep left. It's going to be hard for us."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/w ... 665511.stm
Published: 2005/07/08 19:52:48 GMT

© BBC MMV
 

JamesWhitehead

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Lordy! sheep are the new lemmings.

Or as one PM* goes out de window . . . :shock:

*PM = Pastoral Myth as I guess this isn't so very urban.[/u]
 

MrRING

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Red Tide: The Return Engagement

Scientists Wary of Red Tide Recurrence
By JAY LINDSAY, Associated Press Writer

BOSTON (AP — The red tide that shut down shellfish beds from Maine to Buzzards Bay is fading, but scientists are worried that the toxic tide could return to coastal waters as soon as this fall.

The red tide algae drops armored cysts on the ocean floor which act like seeds, bringing the tide back as many as 10 years later. But the cyst can also germinate in just a few months, said Don Anderson, a red tide expert from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod. "One of the things we're worried about is that we might see a fall surge of these cells," he said Thursday.

The toxic algae is absorbed by shellfish, making them unsafe to eat. Officials emphasize that the shellfish on the market are safe, given the extensive safeguards in place. About half the 1.2 million acres of shellfish beds that Massachusetts shut down beginning in mid-May remained closed on Thursday. The tide has cost shellfishermen about $2.7 million in lost income, though the number could rise as high as $7 million, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey said.

This year's red tide has largely moved out to sea and dispersed, but it takes a while for shellfish that have absorbed the toxic algae to flush themselves clean. A repeat of a red tide as toxic and persistent as this year's is unlikely, either this fall or in coming years, because of the unique wind and water conditions that spurred the nearly unprecedented growth of this year's bloom, Anderson said.

But history suggests the tide will be back for at least the next few years, Anderson said. The only outbreak comparable to this season's occurred in 1972, and the toxic tide returned to Massachusetts waters over the next two decades, Anderson said. With the algae cysts now scattered around the ocean floor, the tide could resurface several more times.

"What we see in these events are these, like gypsy moths, ... are cycles where you may have them every year, but every few years you have a lot," he said. Shellfisherman John Grundstrom, 50, of Rowley, remained shut out from clamming Thursday by closures that continued throughout the North Shore. The beds are expected to open in the next week or so, but Grundstrom said he expects more red tide problems over the next few years.

This year, Grundstrom turned to painting, cleaning basements and odd jobs to make up for the lost income. "This is really starting to wear on me," he said. "I'd rather be digging clams than playing golf, or going to a Red Sox game, or anything, really. I feel like a turtle out of his shell."

The bloom of the red tide algae, called Alexandrium, normally moves down from Maine waters to Cape Ann, but is can be carried further south by currents and winds. This year, strong winds from the Northeast pushed the algae near shore, where it was fed by nutrients carried by unusually high freshwater runoff from this year's heavy snow and rain.

Some shellfish reached levels of toxicity so high that even a fraction of a meal could have been fatal, Anderson said. "When we say there are dangerous shellfish, there absolutely were," he said.

Researchers are working to forecast where red tide will appear next, and how the bloom will move, so shellfishermen and officials can better absorb the effects. On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a $540,000 grant to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for continuing research.

Scientists are also looking into ways to stopping the tide altogether, a monumental task that's years from a solution, Anderson said. Scientists know of viruses and parasites that attack the red tide algae. They've also experimented with mating the toxic and nontoxic algae to create a harmless "mule" algae.

But introducing new organisms or manipulating the ocean environment to stop the tide is controversial, and such steps could only be taken after extensive debate, Anderson said. "Society's going to end up deciding for us," Anderson said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050715/ap_on_sc/red_tide
 

TheQuixote

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Glow-worm alert for dog walkers

A natural history expert says dog walkers can help protect the declining glow-worm population. Nick Moyes, assistant keeper at Derby Museum, said the number of glow-worms in chalky grasslands had dropped in the past 15 years.

Dog muck threatens the creatures because it encourages plant growth and makes it hard for the male to find the glowing female to mate.

The insects are found around the UK and live in colonies of less than 100.

Snail diet

Mr Moyes, who monitors glow-worm populations in various areas of Derbyshire, including Coxbench and Mickleover, said the county council had agreed to provide more bins to control the dog-mess problem.


You might see a few dozen on a good night, but in the 1920s there were probably thousands of them around
Nick Moyes, Derby glow-worm enthusiast

The female glow-worms emit a greenish light, similar to a LED light on a stereo, that is caused when a molecule called luciferin is oxydised.

The glow-worms, which feed on snails by paralysing them before sucking them empty, only mate for a few months in early summer.

Mr Moyes said: "You might see a few dozen on a good night, but in the 1920s there were probably thousands of them around."

They have been identified in the lowland Derbyshire local biodiversity action plan as a species that need protection to ensure their survival.

The three main threats to the glow-worm are changes in habitat, artificial lighting and pesticides.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/e ... 696505.stm
Published: 2005/07/19 11:35:06 GMT

© BBC MMV
 
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Anonymous

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Killer 'beasts' terrorise suburb

Killer 'beasts' terrorise suburb
The dogs have been seen attacking pets around Burton Road
Concerned animal lovers have set up an action group to try to track down two dogs thought have killed more than 30 family pets in south Manchester.

The dogs, dubbed the Beasts of Burton Road, have been seen attacking cats and rabbits in the West Didsbury area.

Jytte Raff, who lost two cats to the dogs, said she has been contacted by dozens of people with similar stories.

Withington MP John Leech is to attend the first meeting of the group, which takes place in October.

"I had a friend who saw her little cat getting ripped to bits" - Jutte Raff

Mrs Raff said two of her cats - Jessica and Tom Jones - were attacked and killed by the dogs earlier this year.

She said she was inundated with sightings from Chorlton, Levenshulme, Burnage, Withington and West Didsbury after contacting her local newspaper.

Owners said in some cases the dogs had ripped open rabbit and guinea pig hutches, before killing the pets inside.

"I had a friend who saw her little cat getting ripped to bits," said Mrs Raff.

Map of south Manchester

The biggest dog is described as a black mongrel with white spots, knee-height with a narrow face and short hair.

The other is described as a sandy-coloured terrier, about the size of a fox.

"If a cat hides under a car, the little one runs under the car, chases the cat out and then they rip it to bits," Mrs Raff added.

She said residents were terrified at the threat the dogs could pose to children.

"Can you imagine a little child sitting in a buggy with these dogs?

"That is our biggest fear, that a small child gets injured by one of these dogs."

The first meeting of the action group takes place at the Red Lion pub in Withington on 6 October.

BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manc ... 266954.stm

The animal killings are covering a wider area than is being reported. My partner, Mrs Womaniac, works for the RSPCA in Ashton-under-Lyne a good 3 or 4 miles from the nearest place reported in this story but over the last month or so, a fair few people have been coming in reporting similar instances in Droylsden, Audenshaw and Ashton-under-Lyne. I know animals aren't adverse to travelling - a hedgepig can wander for over a mile at night - but how large an area will dogs patrol/hunt in? This seems quite a large territory to 'work' in.
 

Transuranic

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Apart from the description of the dogs, it sounds like someone's set a couple of fox hounds loose.
 

Yithian

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I misread the title of this thread as 'Killer Breasts'. I'm a little disappointed now it has opened as that would have been a truly Fortean tale...

:D

Could they be rabid? Or posessed my the devil? Or rabid?
 

Kondoru

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We had a case like this a couple of years ago.

couple of labradors loose and killing cats, breaking into rabbit hutches and the like.

What was possibly more worrying was a concerned member of the public going round poisoning likley suspects...
 

ramonmercado

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Mass dolphin deaths off Zanzibar a mystery: scientists



Scientists probing the deaths of hundreds of dolphins that beached themselves on Tanzania's Zanzibar archipelago last week said Tuesday they had no idea yet what caused the phenomenon.

A team from the Zanzibar-based University of Dar es Salaam's Institute of Marine Sciences said a preliminary investigation into the mass stranding of nearly 600 bottlenose dolphins had failed to yield an explanation.

"We have net yet been able to determine what has exactly caused the strandings," it said in a report. "We are still doing more investigation and ... in a few weeks' time we may come out with some answers."

As of Tuesday, researchers said about 540 of the dead mammals, which washed ashore on four beaches on semi-autonomous Zanzibar's main island of Unguja on Thursday and Friday, had been buried, but that other carcasses could be found.

Analyses of samples taken from the dolphins revealed that their stomachs were all unusally empty, suggesting they vomited in a confused or frenzied state although residue showed they were not poisoned.

Some samples are to be sent abroad but dissections done here found nothing to explain why they may have become agitated but researchers said they may have suffered from "confused echo-location," often caused by human interference.

As the preliminary report showed the carcasses had "no signs of net marks or bruises or cuts" and no evidence of pollution, scientists said that maritime sonar devices, seismic activity or poor weather might be to blame.

"Seismic or sonar (activity) can cause vomiting," it said, noting that dead dolphins "had basically empty stomachs".

At the same time, the report said heavy cold rains and high seas, like those reported by fishermen in the area at the time, that lead to panic among tightly knit dolphin pods are suspected to have caused similar events.

"Affected animals will relentlessly follow one another ashore, as if crippled by widespread panic, even when there is clear access to open water," it said.

Bottlenose and humpback dolphins are popular attractions for tourists visiting Zanzibar's famed spice islands where snorkelers can swim with the creatures as they frolic in the ocean.

However, mass strandings such as last week's are unusual with the last recorded event -- when about 60 pygmy whales beached themselves -- occurring in Zanzibar in the 1940s, the scientists said.


http://www.physorg.com/printnews.php?newsid=65808548
 

ramonmercado

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Cetaceans dive so much deeper and longer than humans -- how do they avoid this misery? First of all, when under water; cetaceans are not breathing pressurized air as is the scuba diver. The cetacean holds its breath under water, breathing only at the surface, so there is not a constant supply of new pressurized air to be dissolved into its body. Scientists think that the deepest diving cetaceans may actually exhale before diving so they have less air in their lungs to be dissolved under pressure.

Amazingly, when a cetacean dives deep, under tons of pressure, its lungs actually collapse because there is no new supply of air to pump them up.


Heyning, John E. Masters of the Ocean Realm: Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), p. 51.

http://www.nhm.org/research/mammals/dol ... bends.html
 

MrRING

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LINK
Weather Blamed for Bird Deaths

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Wildlife officials say stormy weather probably is to blame for the deaths of about 1,000 birds over the weekend at Thurmond Lake near Augusta.

The regional wildlife supervisor for Georgia's Wildlife Resources Division, Vic VanSant, says lightning probably killed the birds. Martins, swallows and crows were among the birds killed at three locations at the lake, which straddles the Georgia-South Carolina line.

VanSant says high winds also can kill large numbers of roosting birds. Alan Dean is a ranger for the Army Corps of Engineers. He says many of the birds were still alive, but injured, when rangers visited the area Sunday. As a precaution, rangers who collected the dead and dying birds wore rubber gloves in case they later were found to be affected by bird flu or some other contagion.

Samples from each group were collected and taken yesterday to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia in Athens to determine why the birds died.

Dean says the most severe storm that swept through the Thurmond Dam area late Friday night flattened about 30 acres of timber at the corps' Quail Habitat Demonstration Area on the Georgia side of the dam.
 

ramonmercado

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The mystery of dead dolphins in Persian Gulf

An autopsy has been carried out on one of the 73 dead dolphin bodies found on Jask beaches, south of Iran, ISNA reported on October 29, 2007.

The marine deputy of Iran Department of Environment announced that a new program regarding the monitoring of the death of aquatic has been set up with the collaboration of the Environment Program of the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea.

Dr Nabavi, on the occasion of the autopsy of one of the 73 dead dolphin bodies found on Jask beaches, said to the environment reporter of ISNA: In this program patrolling the region, reporting dead aquatic on the beaches, monitoring fishing activities and tracking of aquatic, especially the dolphins, are previewed.

More text & photos at:
http://www.payvand.com/news/07/nov/1170.html
 

GNC

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/surrey/7647928.stm

Cat poisonings 'may be malicious'

Vets in a Surrey town believe anti-freeze poisoning which has caused the deaths of 11 cats in the same road may have been malicious.

The Vets Now clinic in Farnham said it had put five cats to sleep from Eaton Road, Camberley this week and knew of six others which had died.

Four of the animals belonged to the same owner, said senior veterinary nurse, Kath Howie.

Surrey Police said was investigating and had not ruled out foul play.

"We normally see one anti-freeze poisoning case every six months, so to see five in one week and have knowledge of another six cases would lead me to believe this has been malicious," said Ms Howie.

Anti-freeze is highly toxic to cats, which are drawn to the substance because it tastes sweet.

Exposure to a teaspoonful can cause death if they lick their paws after coming into contact with it.

"Unfortunately, by the time the signs of anti-freeze poisoning present themselves it is usually too late to save the cat's life," said Ms Howie.

But she said a life could be saved in the early stages, when the animal's symptoms included staggering, vomiting and being un-coordinated.

In the past few weeks, similar incidents have claimed the lives of 28 cats in Somerset - 19 in Bridgwater and nine in Weston-super-Mare.

A spokesman for Surrey Police said it was aware of a number of incidents in the St Michael's and Watchetts area of Camberley in which cats had died after coming into contact with a harmful substance.

"Local officers are investigating and have not ruled out foul play, but are keeping an opening mind about the circumstances," he said.

It hasn't been cold enough for anti-freeze, has it? Sounds like yet another sicko who kills animals but is never caught. Seems to be a lot of it about these days.
 

Quake42

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Why would cats be drawn to antifreeze because of its sweet taste? I thought that all felines lacked the ability to taste sweetness.
 

GNC

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Quake42 said:
Why would cats be drawn to antifreeze because of its sweet taste? I thought that all felines lacked the ability to taste sweetness.

There was a bloke on the radio saying that cats love the taste of antifreeze, so maybe it's more than its sweetness?
 

Dr_Baltar

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Apparently cats and dogs are both attracted by the smell and taste of ethylene glycol, the major chemical constituent of antifreeze.
 

ramonmercado

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Peru examines deaths of more than 500 pelicans
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-17890174

A virus or seismic oil exploration are being examined as possible causes

Related Stories

Peru dolphin deaths mystery
Peru country profile

The government of Peru is investigating the deaths of more than 500 pelicans along a 70km (40-mile) stretch of the country's northern coast.

Officials say most appeared to have died on shore over the past few days.

Scientists have also found the carcasses of 54 boobies, several sea lions and a turtle.

They were found in the same region where some 800 dolphins washed ashore earlier this year. The cause of their death is still being investigated.

The Peruvian government said it was "deeply worried".

A preliminary report said that there was no evidence to show the pelicans had died at sea, but rather on the beach where they were found.


But it said further tests would be needed to establish the cause of death.

The Peruvian Maritime Institute (Imarpe) said so far 538 dead pelicans and 54 boobies had been found in various stages of decomposition, although most appeared to have died recently.

In addition, five badly decomposed sea lions and a turtle carcass had been found on shore, Imarpe said.

Local media reports suggest more than 1,200 dead pelicans have been found in the Piura and Lambayeque regions.

Between January and April of this year, some 800 dead dolphins washed ashore in Lambayeque, according to government figures.

Peru's Deputy Minister for Natural Resource Development, Gabriel Quijandria Acosta, said a virus might have killed the dolphins.

A viral epidemic outbreak was linked to similar deaths of marine wildlife in Peru in the past, as well as in Mexico and the United States.

Analysis on the dolphins so far suggested they had contracted a morbillivirus, which belongs to the same group as the measles virus in humans, Stefan Austermuehle of a local NGO, Mundo Azul, told the BBC.

"We know that in other cases in the United States up to 50% of populations were killed by the virus," he said.

"What we also know...is that in previous cases animals that have higher loads of pollutants in their body will fall easier victims to these kind of diseases because their immune system is weakened."

Imarpe scientists said results of tests carried out on the dead dolphins would be released in the coming days.
 

ramonmercado

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It gets worse: but this time we know whats responsible.

Almost Seven Million Birds Perish at Communication Towers in North America Each Year
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 193056.htm

Estimated annual avian mortality from communication towers by Bird Conservation Region. High mortality estimates in Peninsular Florida and Southeastern Coastal Plain reflect the more numerous and taller communication towers in these regions. (Credit: Longcore et al. PLoS One; doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0034025.g006)

ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2012) — Every year nearly 7 million birds die as they migrate from the United States and Canada to Central and South America, according to a new USC study published on April 25 in the journal PLoS ONE.

The birds are killed by the 84,000 communication towers that dot North America and can rise nearly 2,000 feet into the sky, according to the authors of "An Estimate of Avian Mortality at Communication Towers in the United States and Canada."

Placing that figure in context, the Exxon Valdez oil spill killed 250,000 birds and the Empire State building is 1,250 feet high.

"This is a tragedy that does not have to be," said lead author Travis Longcore, associate professor in the USC Spatial Sciences Institute at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

The taller the tower the greater the threat, the study found. The 1,000 or so towers above 900 feet accounted for only 1.6 percent of the total number of towers. Yet these skyscraper towers killed 70 percent of the birds, about 4.5 million a year, Longcore said.

Most of the birds spent winter in places like the Bahamas and summer in Canada. With names like the Common Yellowthroat and the Tennessee Warbler, they could fit in the palm of one's hand.

"These birds eat insects and keep our forests healthy," Longcore said. "They are quite beautiful. We have a long history of appreciating birds. Millions of people watch birds."

However, the birds are not generally killed by running into the tower itself but the dozens of cables, known as guy wires, that prop up the thin, freestanding structure, Longcore said.

During bad weather, the birds were pushed down by cloud cover and flew at lower altitudes. The clouds also removed navigation cues, such as stars, leaving only the blinking or static red lights of towers.

The blinking did not fool the birds, but towers with a static red light resulted in more dead birds.

"In the presence of the solid red lights, the birds are unable to get out of their spell," Longcore said. "They circle the tower and run into the big cables holding it up."

Longcore estimated that changing the steady-burning lights on the 4,500 towers greater than 490 feet tall (about 6 percent of the total) could reduce mortality about 45 percent, or about 2.5 million birds. The study also recommended that businesses share towers to reduce their number and build more freestanding towers to reduce the need for guy wires.

In 2005, Longcore and his colleagues started collecting and analyzing data from field studies that counted the number of bird kills at communication towers across the United States. The team only used findings that documented bird kills for at least a year and in some cases for several decades.

The numbers were scrutinized to find the average bird mortality based on height, the guy wires and the types of lights affixed to the tower.

The team then matched up tower types, sizes and attributes of 38 tower studies, applying those findings to the 84,000 towers across Canada and the United States in preparation for the new publication, which also was submitted to the Federal Communications Commission.

"One of the things this country has been great about is saying we care about not losing species on our watch," Longcore said. "With these towers, we are killing birds in an unnatural way. This is senseless."

The study, which does not include shorter towers that typically are used for mobile telephone transmission, focused on towers taller than 180 feet, which typically provide TV and radio frequencies.

The study's authors included Catherine Rich and Beau MacDonald of The Urban Wildlands Group, Pierre Mineau, Daniel G. Bert and Erin Mutrie of Environment Canada, Lauren M. Sullivan of UCLA, Sidney A. Gauthreaux of Clemson University, Michael Avery of the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Wildlife Services, Albert M. Manville of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Emilie Travis and David Drake of the University of Wisconsin and independent scholar Robert L. Crawford.

The study was funded in part by The Urban Wildlands Group, Environment Canada, the American Bird Conservancy and Defenders of Wildlife.
 

ramonmercado

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Were they killed on porpoise?

Peru dolphins not killed by oil blasts, says minister
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-18169586

The dolphins were washed up in Chiclayo, in the north of Peru

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A Peruvian minister has denied claims that explosions used in oil exploration are to blame for the deaths of hundreds of dolphins.

Fisheries Minister Gladys Triveno said a government investigation showed that natural causes were to blame.

She contradicted a study by an environmental group which suggested that explosions had caused the deaths.

The animals have washed up along Peru's northern coastline since the beginning of the year.

Ms Triveno said the official government report by Peru's Maritime Institute (Imarpe) ruled out oil exploration, or infection by a virus or bacteria, as triggers for the deaths of the dolphins.

"We have reached the conclusion that the deaths were from natural causes. It's not the first time that this has happened," Ms Triveno said, citing similar cases of dolphin deaths in New Zealand and Australia.

She was speaking on Peruvian radio hours before the release of the official government report.

'Food problem'

However, environmental group Orca said it had tested 30 dead dolphins and found they had broken ears and damaged organs, consistent with the animals suffering from decompression sickness.

Orca has blamed the deaths on the noise and pressure waves caused by explosions it linked to oil exploration in the area.

Along the same stretch of shoreline, thousands of sea birds have also been found dead over the past months.

Ms Triveno announced there would be a separate report into the death of more than 1,200 pelicans, but that she could already rule out a bacterial or viral infection.

She said their deaths were related to a "food problem".
 

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Thousands of shellfish found dead in Peru
http://phys.org/news/2012-05-thousands- ... -peru.html
May 26th, 2012 in Biology / Ecology

A dead dolphin lying on a beach on the northern coast of Peru, close to Chiclayo, some 750 km north of Lima, in March 2012. Thousands of crustaceans were found dead off the coast of Lima following the mystery mass death of dolphins and pelicans, the Peruvian Navy said Friday.

Thousands of crustaceans were found dead off the coast of Lima following the mystery mass death of dolphins and pelicans, the Peruvian Navy said Friday.
The cause of death is under investigation, said Industry and Fishing Minister Gladys Triveno, warning that "it would be premature to give a reason for this phenomenon."

The Navy said it presented a report on the find to the Agency of Environmental Evaluation and Control to determine the cause.
Biologist Yuri Hooker of Cayetano Heredia University said the species found on Pucusana Beach, 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Lima, was a type of red krill about three centimeters (1.2 inches) long.

"They live mostly along the coast of Chile up to the coast of northern Peru. What is happening is that these crustaceans are being affected by the warming of Pacific waters in the north of the country," he said, adding that the phenomenon occurs "with some frequency."

Hooker explained that the warmer temperatures led the shrimp-like creatures that usually live far away from the coast to move in closer to land, where they died.

Nearly 900 dolphins washed up along Peru's northern coast between February and April. A government study said the marine mammals died of natural causes, while environmental groups insist the massive toll was linked to offshore oil exploration in the area.

Peruvian officials have suggested that the dolphins, along with 5,000 dead sea birds -- mostly pelicans -- died due to the effects of rising temperatures in Pacific waters, including the southern migration of fish eaten by the birds.
 

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'Starving' crown-of-thorns starfish in mass stranding
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18294729
By Ella Davies
Reporter, BBC Nature

More than 800 crown-of-thorns were left high and dry

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Hundreds of crown-of-thorns starfish found on a beach in southern Japan in January stranded themselves because they were starving, say researchers.

More than 800 were discovered on a 300m stretch of sand on Ishigaki island.

The starfish population "outbreak" was first identified in 2009, when masses of juveniles were seen feeding on the island's outer coral reef.

The coral-eating starfish then took three years to move onto the beach where they perished.

The reason for the starfish population boom is not clear, but the strange behaviour has shown marine scientists what can happen when these slow-moving creatures completely deplete their food source.

"The shortage of food, corals, is a probable cause of the stranding," said Go Suzuki from the Fisheries Research Agency, who witnessed the phenomenon from his research station.

In a paper, published in the journal Coral Reefs, Mr Suzuki and colleagues described how an area once covered with up to 60% coral was reduced to 1% by the voracious starfish.

The marine scientists described how the starfish gradually moved closer to the beach, possibly in search of more coral to feed on.

Mr Suzuki suggested that the current may have helped the starfish along their doomed path, pushing the animals towards the shore.

Noting that they died on the beach, rather than in the water, the team concluded that when the starving starfish were eventually washed up they were too weak to return to the sea.

Crown-of-thorn facts

The multi-armed starfish are named for the protective venomous spines that cover their surface like a crown
The predators extrude their stomachs in order to feed. They liquefy their prey with digestive juices, absorb the nutrients and then suck their stomachs back in
Adults can consume as much as six square metres of living coral reef per year

Watch the 'predatory pin cushion's' attack close up
 

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I'm afraid I don't really feel any sympathy for them. They're going through the Great Barrier Reef like a plague of locusts.
 

ramonmercado

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Brazil biologists investigate penguin deaths
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-18838918

The annual migration takes some penguins as far north as Rio de Janeiro

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Brazilian biologists are investigating the deaths of more than 500 penguins found washed up on the beaches of Rio Grande do Sul state.

Autopsies are being conducted on some of the birds to determine the cause of death.

Researchers said the penguins appeared to have been well-fed, with no apparent injuries and no oil on their bodies.

Similar incidents in the past have been blamed on shifting ocean currents and colder temperatures.

Magellanic Penguins migrate to southern Brazil from Patagonia every year during the southern winter.

Last week dozens of young penguins were rescued from beaches in Rio de Janeiro after straying far beyond their normal range.

The birds delighted beach-goers, but scientists said their health was suffering in the tropical waters.

Brazil's environment agency is preparing to fly those penguins back to the south.
 

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Peru: Dozens Of Dead Sea Creatures Washed Up
http://news.sky.com/story/1056048/peru- ... -washed-up
The bodies of 18 sea turtles, 22 sea lions, eight dolphins, 16 sharks and 22 marine birds are found on the coastline of Peru
4:17pm UK, Saturday 23 February 2013

Video: Warning: Video contains pictures of dead animals and birds

Experts are trying to work out why nearly 100 dead animals and birds have washed up on a Peruvian coastline.

The bodies of 18 sea turtles, 22 sea lions, eight dolphins, 16 angular roughsharks and 22 marine birds were found during an inspection by government officials.

Some of the creatures were sprayed with a special paint as part of an investigation into the grim discovery along 77 miles of the Lambayeque coastline.

The carcasses, were in various states of decomposition, were measured, placed in bags and then taken away for analysis.

Jaime De La Cruz, an engineer with Peru's Ocean Institute, said a report detailing their cause of death was expected in the coming weeks.

In the past couple of years, a worrying number of dead sea creatures have been ending up on Peru's shores.

While officials have yet to conclusively pinpoint a cause, some of the possible explanations include viruses, offshore oil exploration, or poisoned food sources.
 
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