UPDATE: Lobsters too! – Since July, there have been a number of mysterious ocean kills reported from around the world, only one of which has been mentioned by the general media in the west. The kills involve a massive mollusk kill in Pakistan, seal mutilations in Great Britain and, most recently, a huge kill in Brazilian waters. On July 17, 2010, millions of dead and dying mollusks washed up along the Arabian Sea shore of Pakistan, and were videotaped on Clifton Beach in Karachi. On August 18, the British newspaper the Sun reported that over 60 seals have washed up on beaches in Norfolk and Scotland, all dead of an identical injury, a single deep cut from head to stomach. Most recently, a massive kill of alligators, fish and turtles has been reported in Brazilian waters. The mollusk kill has been attributed variously to excessive warm waters, pollution from an oil spill, and even changes in earth’s geomagnetic field. How the seals are being killed or what is killing them remains unknown. The neatness of the cuts and the fact that they are all in exactly the same area of the animal’s body makes it unlikely that they are being impacted by ships or cut by their propellers. In Brazil, the dieback extends into fresh water areas also, which makes it unlikely that the animals are the victims of some sort of poison or pollutant. It appears that similar diebacks are being seen throughout South America. Do at least some of these kills have a similar origin? It is hard to see how the seal kill could be related to the other two, but both massive sea life kills could have a similar origin in some sort of change in the oceans, perhaps a disease vector, a poison or warming of the water. An August kill along the Massachusetts coast has been attributed to pollutants moving up the Gulf Stream from the BP spill in the Gulf, but the other incidents remain unsolved, and may well represent a serious oceanic problem of unknown dimensions and consequences. For more on the seal kill, click here. To read more and watch a video about the Pakistani mollusk kill, click here. To watch a local media report on the Brazilian kill click here.
UPDATE: On August 23, yet another story of problems in the oceans appeared, this from Long Island. About 30% of the lobsters in Long Island Sound have been found to be dying of a wasting disease that causes their shells to dissolve. Scientists do not know what is causing thedieback, or if it will spread to other lobster beds. To learn more about this, click here.
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