Twelve babies have died within a period of four years at the Fort Bragg army base in North Carolina. Three of the deaths occurred in the same house (not in the same family). Officials are still baffled and no explanation has been identified.
Medical records have been reviewed and autopsies studied. Hundreds of environmental studies have been made which did not pinpoint any hazards. Many parents believe the drywall may be to blame, but this was ruled out as well.
Authorities are now testing to see if abnormal pesticide levels may have contributed to the deaths.
Seven porpoises have washed up on Massachusetts shores recently. One of the porpoises was rescued and sent to the University of New England’s Marine Animal Rescue Center in Biddeford, Maine. New England Aquarium officials said that it appears to be a seasonal phenomena, as the porpoises were young and underweight, and presumed to be recently weaned.
Dead fish were reported along a 3 mile stretch of beach in Gulf Shores Alabama. All of the dead fish were spadefish, which looks like a larger version of angel fish. This type of fish kill is unusual for the area. The fish will be sent off for testing, as there was no obvious explanation for the deaths.
The investigation of the UME (unusual mortality event) regarding dolphin deaths in the gulf, currently being conducted by wildlife biologists contracted by the National Marine Fisheries Service, has been removed from public view. Scientists have been told that no findings may be released or discussed outside of the investigation team. Officials of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) insisted that confidentiality measures were warranted due to the government’s proposed litigation against BP.
Several hundred dead starfish washed up on Talybont Beach in Gwynedd. Although it is common for starfish to wash up during spring tides, it is unusual for them to migrate so far up the shoreline and it was felt that an inquiry was warranted.
An investigation into a massive fish die-off just outside the Southside Water Reclamation Plant in Albuquerque revealed that an equipment malfunction cause chlorinated water to flow into the river, killing the fish.
A water test at 1 p.m. showed the water was normal, however fisherman stated that the water was filled with particles of debris and noted that the water was normally clear.
Millions of sardines washed up dead in Redondo Beach, California. It is believed that the fish died from lack of oxygen, as there was no evidence of oil or toxic chemicals in the water. It is further speculated that the fish swam into the harbor to avoid a red tide, which is a naturally occurring rapid accumulation of algae lethal to fish.
Lab tests revealed the fish tested positive for domoic acid, a powerful nerve toxin. One scientist speculated that toxins were released from underground, a harbinger for the Japan earthquake. Marine biologists believe that the domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin that comes from an algae bloom.
107 pilot whales were found beached on Stewart Island in New Zealand on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 by two hikers. Department Conservation staff members were notified Sunday. Officials made the determination to euthanize the 48 whales that were still alive, as it was not feasible to return the whales to the ocean.
While frightening in conjunction with the frequency of mass bird and fish deaths occurring across the globe since the first of the year, beached whales are not a rare occurrence in New Zealand. Notable incidents include:
11/30/2004 75 Pilot Whales Beached on New Zealand’s North Island
December 2007 – 125 Whales Died After Being Stranded on Colville Beach
12/28/2009 125 Whales Die in New Zealand, 43 Saved
08/21/2010 New Zealand Rescuers Refloat 13 Beached Whales
09/23/2010 56 Stranded Whales Die in N.Zealand
Whales become beached when their navigation system has been disrupted. It has been suggested that seismic activity is a major factor in creating navigational confusion in whales. On February 21, 2011, New Zealand suffered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, less than 48 hours after the whales had been spotted. So we need to ask, can we predict earthquakes by whale strandings? One of the most interesting treatises on this subject was written by Capt. David Williams of the DeafWhale Society and can be found here.
Let’s now look at the history of earthquakes in New Zealand:
22 Nov 2004 Puysegur Trench 7.2
20 Dec 2007 Gisborne 6.8
15 Jul 2009 Fiordland 7.8
04 Sep 2010 Darfield, Canterbury 7.1
29 Sep 2010 White Island 6.4 0
22 Feb 2011 Christchurch 6.3
Can we conclude that there is a link between whale strandings and earthquakes? Hmmmmm…..