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Unknowncountry Weekender: Rivers of death and silent seas

Rivers of death and silent seas

Millions of fish are dying in rivers all over the planet and no valid explanation has been given. The reports have come in from every corner of the world, from Sweden to South Korea, and appear only to be connected by the bizarre nature of the phenomena.

A terrifying list, compiled by Michael Snyder (former Washington D.C. attorney, publisher of 'The Truth' ezine and author of 'The Beginning Of The End'), details die-off events occurring worldwide over the course of JUST ONE MONTH this summer:

July 18, 2013: 20 acres of fish ponds full of dead fish in Shandong, China
July 18, 2013: Hundreds of dead Stingrays wash ashore in Veracruz, Mexico
July 18, 2013: 10,000 lbs of dead fish found in a lake in Nanjing, China
July 18, 2013: Thousands of fish dead from “lack of rain” in Sugar Lake, Missouri
July 18, 2013: Large numbers of fish washing up on the shores of Lake Michigan
July 19, 2013: 2,000 dead fish found in a lake in Vollsmose, Denmark
July 19, 2013: Hundreds of fish turning up dead in Holter Lake, Montana
July 19, 2013: THOUSANDS OF TONS of fish have died in Lake Tondano, Indonesia
July 20, 2013: 3,000 fish found dead in a creek in Madison County, Ohio
July 21, 2013: Hundreds of fish found dead in a creek in Laille, France
July 22, 2013: Hundreds of dead fish found in Lake George, Massachusetts
July 22, 2013: Large fish kill at Grand Lake in St. Marys, Ohio
July 23, 2013: Hundreds of dead fish in a park pond in Youngstown, Ohio
July 24, 2013: Massive fish kill washes up in a lagoon in Venice, Italy
July 24, 2013: Thousands of dead fish in Lake Bulwell causes shock in Nottingham, England
July 24, 2013: 30,000 fish dying PER DAY in fish farms in Ratchaburi Province, Thailand
July 24, 2013: Masses of dead fish found in River Lea in England
July 24, 2013: Hundreds of dead fish found in Provo River, Utah
July 25, 2013: Hundreds of fish found dead in a park pond in Birmingham, England
July 26, 2013: Hundreds of thousands of fish dying from “red tide” in South Korea
July 26, 2013: Thousands of dead fish found floating in River Dender, Ath, Belgium
July 26, 2013: Mass fish die-off in a river in Moscow, Russia
July 26, 2013: 25,000 dead fish “is a mystery” in Pittville Lake in Gloucestershire, England
July 26, 2013: 20,000 fish die along a 5 mile stretch of river in Jiangshan, China
July 27, 2013: 10,000 dead fish found in Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania
July 27, 2013: Mass death of fish “is a mystery” in a river in Skane, Sweden
July 27, 2013: Large fish kill in the Bahlui river, “cause unknown” in Romania
July 28, 2013: 1100 King Salmon found dead in a river in Petersburg, Alaska
July 29, 2013: Hundreds of dead fish wash ashore “due to pollution” on beach in Veracruz, Mexico
July 29, 2013: 7 TONS of dead fish recovered from the Keelung river in Taiwan
July 29, 2013: Thousands of fish die “due to heat” in Handsworth Park, Birmingham, England
July 31, 2013: 3 TONS of fish die due to “lack of oxygen” in a river in Pilsen, Czech Republic
August 2, 2013: Thousands of fish dying all over Alaska
August 6, 2013: Up to 1000 lbs of dead fish washed ashore in Ylane, Finland
August 6, 2013: 840 dead Salmon found in a creek in Port Coquitlam, Canada
August 6, 2013: Hundreds of dead fish lining the shore of a pond in Toronto, Canada
August 6, 2013: 100,000 fish die in the Arkansas River
August 7, 2013: Thousands of dead fish found floating in a river in Hangzhou, China
August 8, 2013: Tons of fish washed up on the shores of Karachi, Pakistan

The total number of incidences is quite stunning, with locals in many of the affected areas describing them as unprecedented, and unfortunately the die-offs continue to take place. Many possible causes have been put forward: in a recent incident in Texas on October 5th, the deaths of approximately 2000 fish in City Lake Park, Royse City, were attributed to 'dramatic drops in temperature', and in Bend, Oregon, state biologists blamed a combination of unusual factors including 'high waters' when 3000 rainbow trout were found dead last week.

There are more radical ideas for the fish die-off, as many people are seeing these events as a 'sign' indicating the end of the world, apparently substantiated by bible references such as Ecclesiastes 9:12: “For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” In practical terms, seeing these die-offs as an indicator of the 'end of the world' in some form is not such a outlandish idea; if our fish stocks disappear it will certainly mean the end of the world for many people whose lives and livelihoods depend on plentiful supplies of fish, and shortages will have far-reaching impacts globally. Dead fish are considered by some to be 'harbingers of doom' foretelling cataclysmic events such as earthquakes, so, if this superstition is to be believed, when this happens in the tens of thousands then the news doesn't look good.

The lists have so far concentrated on die-offs occurring in rivers and lakes, but what is the situation in our oceans?

Ten years ago, Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen sailed from Melbourne to Osaka, enjoying a memorable 28 day journey, where the fish were so plentiful he was assured of a catch every single day. Ten years on, Macfadyen discovered a very different story. The skies above him were clear, too clear. There wasn't a single seabird, and the reason for this absence soon became clear: there were no fish.
 
During the whole of his second 28 day journey, Macfadyen caught just two fish.

The reason for this dearth became evident when a small boat was launched from a large fishing vessel working nearby. Fishermen on the boat offered the incredulous Macfayden and his crewmen five huge sugar bags full of dead fish.

"We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That's what they would have done with them anyway, they said." recounted Macfayden in disbelief. "They told us that his was just a small fraction of one day's by-catch. That they were only interested in tuna and to them, everything else was rubbish. It was all killed, all dumped. They just trawled that reef day and night and stripped it of every living thing."

Multiply the effects of that one fishing boat by the countless more that must be working the waters and the reason for the empty, silent seas was all too apparent. Yet the worst was still to come.

Between Osaka and San Francisco, the situation deteriorated even further: massive amounts of debris and garbage from the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 were still clogging the waters for miles around Japan. A slick of oily sludge surrounded thousands of plastic buoys, millions of pieces of polystyrene foam and plastic bottles jostling with fishing lines, ropes, household items, toys, telegraph poles, car parts and industrial wreckage, all the detritus of humanity still remaining, above and below the waterline, and choking the life from the ocean.

"After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead," said Macfadyen. "We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.

"The ocean is broken," he said, shaking his head in stunned disbelief.

When he had tried to push the authorities to organise a clean-up operation, Macfayden was told that "the environmental damage from burning the fuel to do that job would be worse than just leaving the debris there."

The situation in Japanese waters is horrifying enough, but a recent study has confirmed that all of the world's oceans are under threat from a "deadly trio" of factors. The combined effects of global warming, declining oxygen levels and acidification are gradually undermining delicate marine ecosystems, and the effects are could eventually devastate life in our seas.

The study, conducted by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), a non-governmental group of leading scientists, described how "The ‘deadly trio' of ... acidification, warming and deoxygenation is seriously affecting how productive and efficient the ocean is."
Alex Rogers of Oxford University, the scientific director of IPSO, suggested that the threats to the oceans, from the impacts of carbon to over-fishing, were each exacerbating the others.

"We are seeing impacts throughout the world," he said.

The study details the individual impacts of each factor: global warming resulting in higher ocean temperatures, caused through a concentration of so-called 'greenhouse gases' in the atmosphere, is forcing fish populations closer to polar regions and increasing the risk of species extinctions. Corals may cease to grow and could eventually dissolve altogether if temperatures increased by 3 degrees.

Acidification, caused when ocean water reacts with carbon dioxide in the air, affects those marine organisms that rely on calcium carbonate for skeletal development, such as corals, crabs, oysters and some planktons; these are all key members of the oceanic food chain and a decline their populations would have far-reaching effects.

Deoxygenation occurs when fertilizers and sewage are poured into the oceans, resulting in the development of huge algae populations which suck the oxygen out of the water, literally suffocating marine life.

"Risks to the ocean and the ecosystems it supports have been significantly underestimated," reported the IPSO, who worked on the study with the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

They determined that the environment existing in oceans at present were comparable to those seen 55 million years ago, during a period known as the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, where conditions led to wide-spread species extinctions, though the rate of change occurring today was much faster. "The scale and rate of the present day carbon perturbation, and resulting ocean acidification, is unprecedented in Earth's known history," Rogers observed.

Working to improve the 'health' of our oceans needs to be the priority of governments worldwide, or the future of our planet must surely be compromised. Global temperatures have already risen by 0.8 degree Celsius (1.4F) since the Industrial Revolution, and scientists from the IPSO are hoping that their discoveries will add weight to a joint scheme involving almost 200 governments, which aims to limit and cap the overall increase in world temperatures at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F). Stricter management of fish stocks is also vital, and the report proposes a ban on the type of 'bottom trawling' observed by Ivan Macfayden.

“Fish is one of the last wild foods we eat," Macfayden commented, " we have to realise that once it has gone, it is gone. Governments and fishers are making some changes but they need to move more quickly or there won’t be any fish left.”

You can make sure you get the facts surrounding this and other important issues affecting our planet today; visit Unknowncountry.com every day for high-quality news commentary you can’t get aywhere else. 



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