December 31, 2007

Rehabilitation prospects after worst Korean oil spill are good, UN experts say
Earth News -
27 Dec 2007
Area: South Korea

The prospects for rehabilitation after the worst oil spill in the history of the Republic of Korea (ROK) are good, thanks to quick and effective action by the Korean authorities, according to a joint United Nations-European Commission Assessment Team. Although emergency assistance is not required for clean-up operations after the oil tanker Hebei Spirit collided with a barge 100 kilometres south of Seoul, the capital, on 7 December, releasing 10,500 metric tons of crude oil into the sea, the team recommended continued monitoring and analysis to determine the impact on the environment, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today. The team also concluded that shoreline assessment training should be carried out to assist with longer-term clean-up options and to build national response capacity.

Commending the speedy and effective reaction of the authorities, who used methods consistent with international oil pollution response practices, the team noted that follow-up activities began almost immediately after it completed its mission. The affected coastline, approximately 300 kilometres, hosts a number of fish farms and an active wild fishery industry, and is home to habitats for a variety of migratory birds. The region is also a popular tourist destination. As a result of the team’s findings, the Government of Canada is deploying a team of oil spill specialists to provide Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Training to Korean personnel.

Latest red tide victims: Manatees
Florida Today -
28 Dec 2007
J Waymer
Area: Florida United States

State marine patrol officers helped gather a dead manatee and a dolphin today near Kelly Park in Merritt Island, the latest apparent casualties of red tide. Tissue tests would have to confirm red tide as the cause of death. The manatee was found in Sykes Creek near Merritt Island High and the dolphin was found in the Indian River in the Merritt Island area. Through the end of November, red tide killed at least 46 manatees this year in Florida, including two in Brevard County — discounting the one reported today that is a suspected red tide death — and two in Volusia County.

Scientist On Quest For Disappearing Eel
Queens University (Posted by
27 Dec 2007
Area: Canada

A Queen’s environmental scientist will head a new international study to determine whether American eels – the slimy, snake-like fish considered worldwide to be a food delicacy – are dying from chemical pollution in Lake Ontario. Biology professor Peter Hodson and his team of toxicologists and chemists have received a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to solve the mystery of Lake Ontario’s disappearing eel population. Declared a “species of concern” under Canada’s new Species at Risk Act, American eels have until recently supported a multi-million-dollar historic fishery in Ontario and an even larger industry in Quebec.

But with rapidly decreasing numbers of eels, the Ontario fishery has been closed and the Quebec fishery is in serious decline. “A prime suspect in the case of the missing fish is the accumulation of toxic chemicals by the parent eels as they feed, grow, and mature in polluted freshwater lakes and streams,” says Dr. Hodson. “Our task will be to determine whether female eels transfer sufficient chemicals to their offspring to cause their death before reaching Lake Ontario.”

Elevated Levels of Mercury Found in Fish Collected from Four Idaho and Nevada Reservoirs
U.S. Geological Survey -
19 Dec 2007
Area: United States

Fish tissue samples taken from rainbow trout collected from four Idaho and Nevada reservoirs revealed elevated concentrations of methylmercury, according to data released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. The Tribes and USGS collaborated on and jointly funded the study. The tissue samples were analyzed at the USGS Mercury Research Laboratory in Middleton, WI. "The concentrations found were generally elevated for rainbow trout," said Terry Maret, the USGS scientist who directed the sampling.

Maret referred to a study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which found that the average mercury concentration in rainbow trout across the United States was about 0.11 parts per million (ppm), wet weight. "About 70% of the fish filets analyzed were above this," he said. "Also, many of the larger fish we sampled exceeded Idaho's fish tissue methylmercury criterion of 0.3 ppm, a level established for the protection of the adult consumer." Older, larger fish tend to show greater concentrations of methylmercury due to biomagnifications in the food chain.

Chain reaction killing loons in Great Lakes
National Post with Files from The New York Times -
29 Dec 2007
M Leong
Area: Canada

Experts cite Type E botulism traced to mussels

The carcasses of hundreds of dead loons have washed up on the shores of the Great Lakes in recent months, and necropsies on the birds do not explicitly say what is killing one of the country's national symbols. But the fat, healthy-looking birds have congested organs and half-digested fish in their stomachs, leading biologists to believe the loons succumbed to a spreading epidemic that has killed 75,000 birds, including 9,000 loons, in the Great Lakes since 1999. Diseased bird carcasses appeared this year for the first time on the beaches of Georgian Bay, a wildlife expert said. Last year, the deaths were seen for the first time in Lake Michigan.

"Rather than sporadic outbreaks, which have occurred for years and years, now it is becoming much more generalized over the Great Lakes... It's becoming more widespread," said Kate Welch, a diagnostician with the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, who performs necropsies on the birds. The loons, symbols of Canadian wilderness, died after eating bad fish. More specifically, the loons were poisoned with Type E botulism, a common bacteria which grows on the bottom of lakes and is spread by two non-native species. The bacteria is picked up by zebra mussels and quagga mussels which are then consumed by fish called round gobies.

Researchers to test elk for Chronic Wasting Disease, birth control effectiveness -
30 Dec 2007
Area: Colorado United States

In January, researchers will begin to look at ways to test live elk for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and the effectiveness of an experimental, multi-year fertility control agent. According to a release from Rocky Mountain National Park, this will be the first time free ranging elk will be tested for CWD. Right now, CWD can only be diagnosed after death in elk. Researchers will conduct the research over the next several years, in conjunction with the proposed lethal reduction of elk.

Initial elk captures will take place this winter with monitoring continuing over the next three years. Most of the darting will take place in the Moraine Park, Beaver Meadows and Horseshoe Park areas on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition to testing female elk for CWD, during the first year, researchers plan to administer the fertility control agent GonaCon to 60 elk.



Species barriers for chronic wasting disease by in vitro conversion of prion protein [online abstract only]
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Dec 28;364(4):796-800. Epub 2007 Oct 25.
L Li et al.

Ecologic immunology of avian influenza (H5N1) in migratory birds [online abstract only]
Emerg Infect Dis. 2007 Aug; 13(8): 1139-43
TP Weber and NI Stilianakis

Detection and surveillance for animal trichinellosis in GB [online abstract only]
Vet Parasitol. 2007 Nov 12 [Epub ahead of print]
IA Zimmer et al.

No comments: