More dead creatures wash ashore in Nova Scotia


spaminator
#1
More dead creatures wash ashore in Nova Scotia
THE CANADIAN PRESS
First posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2016 10:44 AM EST | Updated: Wednesday, December 28, 2016 07:59 PM EST
PLYMPTON, N.S. — Western Nova Scotia’s mysterious fish kill has spread to new species, with scores of dead starfish, clams, lobsters and mussels now washing ashore alongside thousands of herring.
Fisheries officers were on beaches in the St. Marys Bay area Wednesday, collecting samples as their investigation expanded beyond the herring that first appeared a month ago.
“We’re seeing multiple species throughout that area. We started to see them late last week ... but over the last 48 hours, we’ve been seeing more significant reports,” said Doug Wentzell, regional director of fisheries management for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The department issued a lengthy statement Wednesday detailing its testing for infections, diseases, toxins, predators and broader water quality issues.
“Everything to date has come back negative. So now that we’ve got a few other species involved, that causes us to broaden the scope again,” Wentzell said. “We’re going back to the drawing board to make sure that we have not left any stone unturned.”
Wentzell said the DFO could find no connection between the fish kill and the Cape Sharp Tidal turbine that began producing power in November in the Minas Passage, about 150 kilometres away.
He said officers hoped to search underwater areas of St. Marys Bay Thursday.
Dead herring have been found in a 100-kilometre swath of western Nova Scotia from St. Marys Bay to Tusket, with most between the mouth of the Sissiboo River and Plympton. Wentzell said the wider number of species have washed up in that same narrow area of St. Marys Bay.
Eric Hewey, a 23-year-old native of the area who now lives in Halifax, posted photos of the dead sea life on the beach at Savary Provincial Park on his Facebook page over the holidays.
He said he had been visiting family when a friend said they had to “come see the beach” in Plympton.
“We went down and (saw) masses of dead sea life,” Hewey said in an email Wednesday. “Anecdotally, nobody we know has ever seen this happen, and it causes a lot of emotions. This is the livelihoods of so many people, and indirectly other people.”
Ted Leighton, an adjunct biology professor at Nova Scotia’s University of Sainte-Anne, has compiled more than 40 sightings of dead herring since late November.
The herring deaths were cause enough for concern, Leighton said, but now that new species have surfaced dead, it’s time to figure out “what’s really going on.”
“We’re kind of in the dark, not from lack of trying, but from the complexity of the case,” he said.
Leighton said that until scientists know what’s killing the herring, it’s hard to say whether other marine life could be vulnerable to the same forces.
“They may or may not be related,” said Leighton. “If they are related, they may be related in sort of an indirect means ... (like) different pieces of global warming.”
Leighton said scientists can make some inferences based on the broad swath of species that were swept ashore in the last “pulse” of deaths.
A starfish, a lobster and a herring have very little in common, said Leighton, and it’s unlikely that an infectious disease, which targets a narrow range of organisms, could wipe out such a diverse cross-section of marine life.
Leighton said the only trait the fish share is where they live — the bottom of St. Marys Bay — so the answer may lie near the sea floor. A lethal change in marine habitat, like toxic water contamination or lack of oxygen, has the potential to wipe out all life it touches, he said.
Wentzell said despite the mystery, fish kills have been known to happen. He understands, though, why local are concerned.
“We’ve got a lot of citizens that are very engaged in this, which I can certainly appreciate if I was living in that area. It has generated a lot of tension on social media. It’s a visible issue and it’s one that I can see generating a lot of interest.”
Dead sea creatures are shown washed ashore in Savary Provincial Park near Digby, N.S. on Monday Dec. 26, 2016 in this image provided by Eric Hewey. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Eric Hewey)

More dead creatures wash ashore in Nova Scotia | Canada | News | Toronto Sun
 
spaminator
#2
Whale washes up on N.S. beach near area where other species found dead
THE CANADIAN PRESS
First posted: Thursday, December 29, 2016 06:41 PM EST | Updated: Thursday, December 29, 2016 06:44 PM EST
DIGBY, N.S. — A dead whale has washed up in the same area of western Nova Scotia that has seen scores of dead herring, starfish, clams and lobster litter the shoreline — but fisheries officials say it’s too early to say whether the deaths are related.
Jennifer Thibodeau and her husband were driving past the beach on Whale Cove on Tuesday when they spotted what appeared to be a young whale, perhaps nine metres long, near the high water mark.
She said the humpback whale did not appear to have any external injuries that could easily explain its death.
“It’s really sad. I was crying about it this morning,” said Thibodeau, whose home is about 150 metres from the beach.
“From our house we can look out and watch them jump out of the water in the summertime. You can hear them blow and ... you can see them breach and it’s sad to think that’s one of those whales that we watched.”
Fisheries officials say it’s too early to say whether the whale’s death is related to a mysterious fish kill that appears to have spread to new species, including starfish, clams, lobsters and mussels now washing ashore alongside thousands of herring.
Officials have tested for infections, diseases, toxins, predators and broader water quality issues — with all coming back negative so far.
Dead herring have been found in a 100-kilometre swath of western Nova Scotia from St. Marys Bay to Tusket, with most between the mouth of the Sissiboo River and Plympton.
A Fisheries biologist gathered samples in sub-tidal areas of St. Marys Bay Thursday to measure oxygen levels in the water near the beaches where herring began washing up about a month ago.
Kent Smedbol, manager of the population ecology division at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said depending on what the sampling reveals, DFO may set up monitoring in the area.
But it doesn’t make much sense to look at whether there is a link between the fish kill and the dead whale until the sampling is complete, he said.
Smedbol said if the habitat on the ocean floor looks to be in good health, officials would likely rule out any local environmental issue, and it would be unlikely the whale death is related to the fish kill.
But if the sampling reveals a general die-off in the sub-tidal area, then it might make sense to look at whether there is a connection, he said.
Smedbol said the juvenile whale has likely been dead for “some time” — perhaps weeks. He said photos suggest there has been decomposition of the whale’s interior organs and tissues.
The department hasn’t decided whether a necropsy will be done. Smedbol said there are only a few people in North America who have the expertise to perform the procedure on a large whale, and given its decomposed state, a necropsy may not provide a lot of information.
“If it was blunt force trauma, we would probably be able to determine that. But if it was an illness or toxins... it would be very difficult to draw definitive conclusions on those causes of death,” said Smedbol. “So the department will have to weigh the options.”
Charlie Thibodeau walks next to a whale at Whale Cove near Digby, N.S. on Tuesday Dec. 27, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Hope Thibodeau

Whale washes up on N.S. beach near area where other species found dead | Canada
 
spaminator
#3
Scientists say no obvious reason to date for massive herring kill in Nova Scotia
Keith Doucette, THE CANADIAN PRESS
First posted: Friday, December 30, 2016 01:37 PM EST | Updated: Friday, December 30, 2016 03:32 PM EST
HALIFAX — Scientists have yet to find a cause for the massive fish kill off southwestern Nova Scotia, but one federal official said he doesn’t think there is a reason to be concerned based on testing so far.
Kent Smedbol, manager of population ecology for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), said Friday that while the lack of an obvious cause is “perplexing,” he doesn’t personally believe there is need for concern at this point.
“I can’t speak for the department, personally at this point from most of the studies that have been undertaken, the evidence provided to date, I don’t think there’s a great cause for concern,” Smedbol said in a news conference Friday.
Since late November, thousands of dead herring have been found in a 100-kilometre swath from St. Marys Bay to Tusket, with most found between the mouth of the Sissiboo River and Plympton. More recently, scores of starfish, clams and lobster have also turned up dead, and a dead whale also washed ashore on a beach in Whale Cove.
Smedbol said scientists conducted testing on the Bay of Fundy on Thursday and preliminary results for temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen came back normal.
A camera scan of the bottom of St. Marys Bay also showed normal conditions and an abundance of live lobster in the area.
“That would indicate that the die off was unlikely due to an environmental event, because you would expect more broad-scale die offs across species particularly in the benthos, animals on the bottom,” Smedbol said. “Things seem to be pretty normal on the bottom of St. Marys Bay.”
Derreck Parsons, a senior compliance program officer for DFO, said officers tracking and collecting samples of the dead herring have noticed a change.
“It isn’t appearing as if there’s new observations of more dying or actively dying fish,” said Parsons. “In all essence as far as we know it doesn’t look like it (the fish die off) is increasing.”
Fish kills are not uncommon, especially in fresh water, but the last kills of comparable size involving herring occurred in the Bay of Fundy in 1976 and 1979, one official said Friday.
Smedbol said that to date scientists have not turned up evidence of disease, parasites or toxins, and nothing has “stood out” in the physical examination of the fish and other marine life.
He said DFO would be conducting further tests on recently collected invertebrate samples and was also willing to look for any connections by examining the carcass of the humpback whale, which he described as being in “a fairly advanced state of decomposition.”
“We have certainly worked through what I call the usual suspects and the fish health lab is working on a few more viral probes ... we will have to wait and see what happens over the next week,” said Smedbol.
He said a storm during the holiday period caused a sudden temperature drop to minus 5 degrees in shallower waters near Digby. The temperature dip and rough surf may have caused some creatures living on the bottom to die and wash up, Smedbol said, however he cautioned the examinations have turned up nothing conclusive.
Alain Vezina, director of science for DFO, said he is in the process of contacting officials at the U.S. National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and in the United Kingdom to seek potential help.
Vezina said there was a fish kill in a Long Island canal in November, and one that killed several species of fish off Cornwall earlier in December.
“So far as I can tell there doesn’t appear to be any link between the various events,” he said. “I’m mainly looking for more brains to throw hypotheses at us and see whether we can test more things here.”
A dead herring lies on the shore in Savary Provincial Park in Plympton, N.S. on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. Scientists say they don't know the cause of the deaths but continue to look for answers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Scientists say no obvious reason to date for massive herring kill in Nova Scotia
 
Curious Cdn
#4
Somebody dumped something, out there.
 

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