March 2, 2015 – EARTH
– The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.
Dead whale found washed ashore at Cuddalore, India
|The carcass of the beached whale at Pettodai near Periyakuppam in Cuddalore on Thursday.
The carcass of a 30-foot-long whale washed ashore at Pettodai near Periyakuppam on Thursday evening.
A group of fishermen spotted the carcass near the shore at around 6 p.m. and alerted the Forest Department.
News about the dead whale spread like wildfire and people gathered in large numbers to get a view of the mammal.
“The whale had a length of 9 metres and weighed nearly five tonnes. A post-mortem examination alone can reveal reasons behind the death and how it was swept to the shore. The whale might have been hit by a barge or a ship passing through the coast,” Sundaramurthy, Cuddalore Range Forest officer said.
The carcass was found stuck in the sand and an earthmover was engaged to retrieve it.
It was later buried in a pit on the shore by the Forest Department.
Last month, a male dolphin beached at the Solai Nagar coast in Puducherry. The dolphin died after efforts to rescue it failed. – The Hindu.
Massive fish die off in fish farms in the east of Singapore
Several fish farmers in the East saw large stocks of their fish wiped out early Saturday (Feb 28) morning after the coast was hit by a tide containing huge plankton blooms.
When this happens fish have to compete with the micro-organisms for oxygen, which could cause them to die.
Philip Lim, who owns three fish farms, said: “It’s huge. It’ll cost me about S$50,000. All the fishes have come in just about three months ago, some of them just came in one month ago.”
Mr Lim sent Channel NewsAsia videos of the scene on Saturday, saying his entire stock of fish was either dead or dying.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) had said in a statement on Friday that it would monitor the situation, and work closely with the fish farmers to mitigate the issue.
It had warned the farmers early last week after detecting elevated plankton levels in the area, said AVA.
|Dead fish due to red tide at a Pasir Ris fish farm. (Photo: Frank Tan, Marine Life Aquaculture)
AVA has also deployed waste disposal vessels to assist farmers in the disposal of dead fish at the East Johor Straits caused by the elevated plankton levels.
On Feb 18, coastal fish farms at the Straits reported dead fish in the area. Since then, AVA has been visiting the fish farmers to ascertain the situation, offer advice to them to mitigate the situation, such as canvas-bagging, and collecting fish samples from the affected farms for analysis.
AVA said some farms have carried out emergency harvest of the fish in view of the elevated plankton levels.
It had earlier reported that laboratory tests conducted did not detect marine biotoxins in the fish. AVA said fish harvested from local farms are safe for consumption. – Channel News Asia.
Rare Arctic bowhead whale seen for the first time in UK waters
|The bowhead was spotted with a mobile phone camera. © Seawatch
The bowhead whale was photographed on a mobile phone off Par Beach on the remote island of St Martin’s by diver Anna Cawthray who immediately suspected it was special.
But it took an international exchange of e-mails between experts in Britain and the United States to identify it as a young bowhead who was 2,000 miles from home.
Anna feared the whale – which was about 25ft long – could have been stranded but she said: “After about 15 minutes it swam away.
“Seeing it was a once in a lifetime experience.”
Bowhead whales normally live in the high Arctic near the ice edge and their closest population is off Spitzbergen far to the north of Norway.
They can reach up to 70ft in length, weigh up to 90 tonnes and live for up to 200 years which makes them possibly the longest lived marine mammal in the world.
They live off small crustaceans and use their large heads to smash through pack ice.
The record was described by the Sea Watch Foundation as an “extraordinary sighting”.
A spokesman said: “This is the first sighting of this species in the UK. It has also not been recorded elsewhere in Europe south of the Barents Sea which is north of Norway.
“Bowheads were so heavily exploited by whalers in the Arctic Ocean, in Baffin Bay off Greenland, and the Barents Sea that the population seriously declined during the early twentieth century.
“The population dropped from around 30,000-50,000 to a low in the 1920s of about 3,000.
“But the cessation of commercial whaling in the latter half of the last century has allowed numbers globally to increase to somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000, mainly in the Beaufort Sea and Arctic Ocean.”
Sea Watch Foundation’s founder and director, Dr Peter Evans, said: “Bowhead whales are unusual amongst whale species in being largely confined to the coldest parts of the world, generally never far from the ice edge.
– Daily Express.
Jellyfish bloom reported for the first time off coast of Visakhapatnam, India
A bloom of jellyfish has been reported off the Visakhapatnam coast for the first time. MFV Matsya Shikari, a survey vessel attached to the Vizag base of the Fishery Survey of India (FSI), has reported a bloom of jellyfish around 60 nautical miles off Visakhapatnam.
The vessel was carrying out a demersal (near the seabed) fishery resource survey in the area and researchers were surprised that 500 kg of jellyfish was caught in a single haul from a single-patch area at a depth of 40m. They say this is an indication of their abundance in the area.
The jellyfish found off was identified as Crambionella stuhlmanni, which causes skin rashes if touched. There are many species of jellyfish, which are venomous and its sting considered dangerous. World over, jellyfish blooms have caused power plant outages, destroyed the fishing-industry and damaged the beaches of holiday destinations.
“Jellyfish bloom is an indication of coastal eutrophication, overfishing and ecosystem degradation. Blooming of jellyfish results in clogging of fishing nets and thereby causes interference to fishery.
We observed that these jellyfish are laying thousands of eggs and live as a colony. The recent bloom could be due to an underwater drift and other oceanic changes due to natural calamities like Cyclone Hudhud etc. They breed in large numbers, sometimes in thousands,” said senior scientific assistant at FSI, Vizag A. Siva, who was part of the voyage.
He said an in-depth study is the needed to understand the causes of the jellyfish bloom and its effect on the coastal fishery of India. – Deccan Chronicle.
Weimeraner survives cougar attack in Sierra National Forest, California
|Weimeraner survives cougar attack. © yourcentralvalley.com
A weekday rendezvous with Mother Nature gave a group of California hikers much more than they expected. What started out as a pleasant mountain jaunt for a four-year-old weimeraner and her owner in Oakhurst, California went south very quickly when they came face-to-face with a mountain lion. On Feb. 19, Candace Gregory was hiking with friends in the Sierra National Forest with her dog Sally. As Gregory tells it, she and her friends were about 30 feet behind her dog when she saw “a flash of something tannish”.
Before it could even register, the big cat had Sally’s head in it’s jaws and it’s paws wrapped around the pooch’s body. Fellow hiker Rick Lawin said he heard a “blood curdling screaming sound of an animal in its death throes.” He ran up and started hitting the mountain lion with his hiking stick, to help out Sally and protect his fellow hikers. That worked, because the hungry animal dropped the dog and jumped into the trees. They estimate that the big cat must have weighed at least 120 pounds.
They got Sally back to the car and rushed her over to a vet in Fresno, who reports the weimie had claw and bite marks all over her chest and legs, with a huge wound on her head. Sally had numerous stitches and a drainage tube placed in her head.
The group was very lucky. Had it not been for that hiking stick, Sally may not have lived through the attack. According to Mountainlion.org, in previous big cat attacks, people have utilized rocks, jackets, garden tools, tree branches, walking sticks, fanny packs and even bare hands to turn away the cats. They also did the right thing in slowly backing away from the cat. That’s another of the recommendations listed right on the website, which also says you should make yourself seem as large as possible, open your jacket, yell, throw things, but don’t turn away. Maintain eye contact and act like another predator.
They’re also thankful they carried a cell phone to call ahead, a necessity any time you’re communing with nature. A spare battery or portable charger is also recommended, and make sure it’s charged. Sally will recover but won’t be going on any hikes for several weeks; and the next time they go hiking, she’ll remain leashed. – Examiner.
Two coyotes attack dog in Cleveland, Ohio cemetery
|Maitri, a 70-pound greyhound-mix, was attacked by two coyotes soon after this photo was taken. © Beverly Singh
A Cleveland Heights dog is recovering from being attacked Sunday by two cold and hungry coyotes at Lake View Cemetery.
Yes, a cemetery island of grass and trees amid the busy streets at the intersection of Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland was the scene of a coyote encounter and more proof that Ohio’s coyote population is rebounding.
Maitri, a 70-pound greyhound-mix, was lucky she had speed on her side. She escaped with a gaping flesh wound to a hind leg that required six stitches.
Ohio’s dog owners need to beware that, in any setting, a dog running loose can be fair game, especially in the winter when predators are struggling to find common prey, like rodents.
Maitri’s owner, Beverly Singh, a Cleveland Heights business owner who takes her dog to work with her, gives this account of the encounter:
“Maitri, being part greyhound, is used to lots of exercise and long walks. I took her to the cemetery around 1 p.m. because the sidewalks were so impassable, while the back roads at the cemetery were plowed.
“I let her off leash to run, though I know dogs aren’t supposed to be off leash. I had both of my knees replaced within the last two years, and I’m nervous on the ice and snow.
“She ran up a path amongst some trees and out of sight. When I called her, she didn’t come at first, so I called with more force. As she came running back around the curve in the path, I thought there was another dog with her, but as she came closer, I saw it was two coyotes on her tail. They broke off the chase about 40 feet from me, and when she got to me, I saw a big wound on her hind leg. We quickly walked back to the car and I took her to the emergency veterinary hospital, where she had to have anesthesia to close the wound.”
Lake View Cemetery president Kathy Goss said, “There is a decent population of coyotes in the neighborhood, and, of course, some will visit the cemetery’s 285 acres of land and nine miles of winding roads.”
Those less-traveled roads also attract dog walkers, “a regular group of them who obey the rules and keep their dogs on a leash, don’t walk them on the graves and pick up after them,” Goss said. “This is the first coyote encounter we have heard of, but it wouldn’t be wise to let a dog run loose in any park, especially in this extremely cold weather.”
Singh said she heard about a couple of dogs getting attacked by coyotes in nearby Forest Hills Park, but “I thought we were safer at Lake View, so near the roads.”
Singh agrees with Maitri’s veterinarian, who examined the healing wound Wednesday.
“The vet said Maitri was very lucky,” Singh said. – Cleveland.
100 Georges Turtles found dead or dying in Bellinger river, Australia
|A sick turtle, one of many taken from Bellinger River, is examined by senior curator Greg Pickering at Dolphin Marine Magic. © Gemima Harvey
An Environment Protection Authority (EPA) investigation into a large freshwater turtle kill in the Bellinger River, has given the wayterway a clean bill of health.
As many as 100 Georges Turtles have been found dead or dying in recent days from a mystery illness.
Investigation are underway to determine what is killing them.
The EPA took water samples from multiple points along the river, while vets from the Office of Environment and Heritage are examining the reptiles.
The water tests have not found any pesticides or hydrocarbons.
An EPA spokeswoman said the testing was thorough, and backs up the initial theory it was not a toxic spill that coused the turtle kill.
“EPA officers took the samples from four key locations along the river including at Myers Bluff and Thora Bridge,” she said.
“The first round of results has confirmed that there are no traces of pesticide or hydrocarbon in the samples.
“These results support the initial observations that the turtle deaths are not related to a pollution incident.”
Further results, including those from veterinary testing on the turtles, are likely to be delivered early next week.
Scientist trying to save the rare freshwater turtles fear the death of 100 could push the species to the brink of extinction.
Marine vet Duan March has been looking after the affected reptiles, and said most are not surviving.
“As of yesterday afternoon we had ten still left alive,” he said.
“The Georges Turtle, that’s where they live and this is going to be a significant impact on that population.
“Population estimates vary depending on studies, but up to 400 individuals have been identified in that stretch of river.
“So a loss of 100 is significant.” – ABC Australia.
Wild boar attacks and injures five in Mizoram village, India
|Wild boar. © David J Slater
A male wild boar entered a village in eastern Mizoram on Wednesday morning and injured five people, three of them grievously, before villagers shot it dead.
Village leader C Lalnunpuia said the wild boar entered Saichal, within Champhai district, from the nearby woods around 9.45 am, chasing a woman who was coming from the same direction. As it reached a house on the outskirts, it attacked a group of women sitting on the porch.
One of the women, identified as Lalruatliani, sustained wounds on her hands and arms, with several fingers broken.
Another woman, Pi Kawli, sustained wounds in the back, while the third woman, Lalrampari, was wounded in the chest and legs.
Two men who came to the women’s aid were also injured before one of them could hit the wild boar with an axe.
The animal fled after it was wounded, and another villager chased after it and shot it dead near the village graveyard, which adjoins the woods.
Lalnunpuia, president of the village’s Young Mizo Association unit, said the wounded were being shifted to the Aizawl Civil Hospital, about five hours by road.
Fanaia Fanai, another village leader, said it was rare to find wild boars roaming in the area and that he has not seen one himself in recent memory although he regularly goes to the woods and adjoining farmlands. – The New Indian Express.
Mass death of marine creatures at Pasir Ris beach, Singapore
Scores of dead marine life have been washing up on Pasir Ris beach over the weekend.
While reports have emerged about Changi fish farms suffering massive losses, it seems like wild fish have not been spared either.
Marine creatures – including puffer fish, eels, horseshoe crabs and cuttlefish – have been turning up lifeless on the island’s north-eastern shores.
In the Changi case, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said plankton that damaged fish gills were responsible for the casualties.
But locally farmed fish remain safe for consumption as lab tests have not detected toxins in them.
|Cuttlefish. © Sean Yap
|Stars and stripes Puffer (Arothron hispidus). © Sean Yap
|Pike eel/conger, Muraenesox sp. © Sean Yap
|Bluespotted Puffer (Arothron caeruleopunctatus). © Sean Yap
Mr Sean Yap, an undergraduate studying environmental biology at the National University of Singapore, has documented the carnage in an album on Facebook.
Calling for something to be done to address the almost annual occurrence, he wrote:
“(The) plankton has affected not only farmed fish, but many wild species as well.
“While it is sad to see them this way, this event may actually give us a rare insight into the diversity of marine life in our northern region, which are usually hidden by our opaque waters.”
In March 2012, The New Paper reported that thousands of fish had died along the Sungei Api Api river in Pasir Ris.
Here are some casualties that Mr Yap and his friend Sankar Ananthanarayanan snapped:
Hundreds of dead fish found on the banks of a river in Uttar Pradesh, India
Morning walkers at Kudiya Ghat were in for a shock on Friday morning, as they found hundreds of dead fish floating on the banks of river Gomti. As the day progressed, similar news poured in from other parts of the city too, where dead fish were found in bulk.
Experts have said that prima facie it appeared that the ongoing damming work at Kudiya Ghat might be responsible for the mass death, as the machines and equipment could have brought down the level of Dissolved Oxygen (DO) in the river water.
An official of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) said, “Owing to the damming of the river, the water got stagnated and led to a fall in the level of dissolved oxygen in the water. The fall in DO level could be associated with the loss of aquatic animals. It’s a short term effect. The level is expected to be restored after the completion of the ongoing cleaning project at Kudiya Ghat.”
However, as the day progressed, fishermen who were out to make their catch at Gulalaghat, a kilometre away from Kudiya Ghat, also reported similar deaths of fish. The situation was no different near Hanuman Setu, where too morning walkers spotted dead fishes in the water. “We were really shocked to see so many dead fish floating on the river’s surface,” said Kushal Sharma, a morning walker who was among the first ones to spot the fish at Kudiya Ghat.When contacted, district magistrate Raj Shekhar said he was keeping a watch on the cleaning project, “We will send a team of experts at places where dead fish were found to investigate the deaths,” he said. – Hindustan Times.
10,000 birds dead, 23,000 killed due to avian flu in Monywa, Myanmar
|Thousands of chickens and quail were destroyed in Monywa.
(Phyo Wai Kyaw/The Myanmar Times)
Dr Htein Lin said all infected birds had been destroyed, and controls had been imposed to keep suspect stock out of the market.
According to the state-owned media, 10,023 quail had died as of February 25 and 23,000 were destroyed, while 1243 chickens died of the disease and 1488 more were slaughtered in the 55-hectare (134-acre) zone.
“According to our figures, there are more than 140,000 chickens in the zone, but we don’t know the exact number of quail,” said Dr Htein Lin.
“Not all farms were affected. Controls have been put in place to stop the spread of the disease, and no infected products will be put on sale outside the zone. The regional government is also involved, and we have released full details of our response. The situation is under control,” he said.
Dr Htein Lin said the zone authorities were applying experience gained during H5N1 outbreaks in 2006 and 2010 in dealing with the current situation.
Dr Kyaw Htin, head of the Mandalay Region Livestock Federation, said fowl deaths outside the zone were due to Newcastle disease and respiratory ailments common at this time of year.
“There is no unusual H5N1 activity in Mandalay Region, and no humans in Monywa are reported as infected. Bio-security is the key to dealing with H5N1. Livestock products such as eggs, chicken meat, and poultry guts derived from illegal trade are dangerous, especially those coming from China,” he said.
Chickens are mostly bred in Patheingyi and Madaya in Mandalay Region in more than 200 poultry farms, he said, adding that one possible source of infection was the practice of some chicken butchers to build temporary slaughter huts beside creeks.”H5N1 genes are always changing. One day, we will have to adopt a closed-farm system for fowl and quail livestock,” he said. – MM Times.
Fish kill in 2 farm ponds in La Union, Philippines
A fish kill has affected the fish pens in at least two barangays in San Fernando City in La Union province, a television report said Wednesday.
Local fishermen blamed the hot weather in recent days, according to a report on GMA News TV’s “Balita Pilipinas Ngayon.”
WATCH: Mass fish die-off in the Philippines.
The fishermen said there had been no rain in the area for a long time, and the land had dried up.
Some fish pen owners have resorted to harvesting their fish early even if the fish are still small.
The local government has not yet commented on the situation, the report said. – GMA Network.
Shellfish population dying in New Zealand harbour
|The volume of pipis on Mair Bank has slumped from 10,000 tonnes to less than 100 tonnes. © Thinkstock
A massive pipi bed in Whangarei harbour is dying and there are fears the change could destabilise the harbour – and Marsden Point itself, Radio NZ reports.
The volume of pipis on Mair Bank has slumped from 10,000 tonnes to less than 100 tonnes, sparking fears the massive sandbank, which protects the harbour entrance, will disappear.
The sandbank, shaped similar to a shark’s tooth, lies just off Marsden Point. Locals previously waded out at low tide to scoop up the daily limit of 150 of the shellfish in a couple of minutes. But no more.
NIWA fisheries scientist, James Williams, said the decline had been drastic. Over the last four to five years the pipi population has collapsed.
He said the bank had been eroding from the south and gaining height; coinciding with an apparent absence of juvenile pipi.
“There was a huge biomass there of pipi, everywhere pretty much on the bank and sub-tidally of about 10,000 tonnes and that’s been reduced to less than 100 tonnes from the 2014 survey,” he said.
“So, less than one per cent of what there was in 2005.”
Dr Williams said pollution had not been a problem. Regular testing shows the water quality is very good, despite the presence of the oil refinery and the timber port next door.
Mair Bank was closed to pipi pickers last year but Dr Williams said the volume of shellfish being taken, including a commercial catch, was miniscule compared to the vast quantity available.
He said it might be worth testing the water to rule out pollution by terpenes — compounds found in pine logs. Dr Williams said it was not known what impact the compounds might have on pipi, but they could act as pesticides on some species.
However, Northport chief executive Jon Moore said run-off from the port’s log storage area drained to a big settlement pond.
“It can pump to the harbour if it reaches a high level, so if you have a storm event, obviously the last thing you want is all of that overflowing so there’s a pipeline back to the harbour,” he said.
“It pumps on those high rain events, but at that point when you’ve got a heavy rainfall, most of the water that’s coming through there is pretty damn clean anyway.”
Radio NZ reports the refinery and Northport are worried the loss of millions of shellfish could destabilise Mair Bank.
The New Zealand Refining Company’s environmental manager, Riann Elliot, said if the bank goes, there would be knock-on effects for the harbour and the foreshore.
He said the channel was “self-dredging”.
“There’s no maintenance dredging required here – that could be jeopardised, so the entry to the harbour could be jeopardised.”
“Erosion along the foreshore along Marsden Point could change drastically. We’ve currently got a bit of an erosion problem and there’s evidence to suggest that could accelerate.”
New Zealand Refining chief executive Sjoerd Post said any increase in erosion had to be a concern for the refinery.
“Our site is very close to the sea perimeter, so the pipis dying out may cause instability in the bank which may lead to bigger consequences for us,” said Mr Post.
“But first and foremost, we are really concerned around the fact that sort of an entire species seems to be dying out all of a sudden.”
Mr Post said it was tangata whenua, Patu Harakeke, who first raised the alarm about the Mair Bank pipi beds.
New Zealand Refining and Northport back their call for urgent research into the problem. – The New Zealand Herald.