October 19, 2007

Harbor Seals May Help Determine Effect on Humans of Eating Toxic Fish
San Francisco Chronicle - www.sfgate.com
J Kay
19 Oct 2007
Photo courtesy of San Francisco Chronicle (>> more images here)

Harbor seals in San Francisco Bay are so contaminated with chemicals such as flame retardants and the pesticide DDT that scientists are studying whether the pollutants hurt the pups' chances of survival, data that can add to knowledge about the contaminants' effects on humans.

About 500 harbor seals that rest on the bay's beaches eat the same kinds of fish caught by local anglers, and the seals live in waters shared by swimmers, surfers and kayakers. What happens to these marine mammals could offer clues as to how pollution from sewage and dirty rain runoff can affect other mammals, including sea lions, otters and even people, scientists say.

The study, financed in part by a $100,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, focuses on the offspring of harbor seals that rest on Castro Rocks near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in view of ferryboat traffic and the Chevron refinery.

Deadly Tasmanian Devil Cancer Spreads
The Sydney Morning Herald - www.smh.com.au
19 Oct 2007

The deadly cancer threatening to drive Tasmanian Devils into extinction has entered one of the marsupial's last remaining disease-free frontiers. Experts also fear the disease will spread across the devil's entire habitat within five years and are not confident disease-free animals could be sourced from the wild after the middle of next year.

The hideous Facial Tumour Disease has been found in one of the animal's highest density populations at Nawrantapu National Park, in Tasmania's north. University of Tasmania wildlife biologist Hamish McCallum said time was running out to save the species as the cancer spread into unaffected populations.

Md. Targets Deadly Virus
Baltimore Sun – www.baltimoresun.com
19 Oct 2007

The start of one of Maryland's most popular hunting seasons gave state wildlife managers their first look at the effects of a deadly virus on the white-tailed deer population. Biologists were at taxidermy and butcher shops yesterday for the first day of the two-day-early muzzleloader season to look at the health of deer and to ask hunters whether they have seen signs of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a naturally occurring outbreak that happens every year on the East Coast.

"In a low-level year, no one even knows about it but us," Pete Jayne of the Department of Natural Resources said. "But this year, we're hearing about it. The early muzzleloader season and firearms season [next month], we'll start to see the impact." So far, the state has confirmed cases in four counties, all on the Eastern Shore.


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