May 31, 2011


Hawaiian Monk Seals Carry Ciguatoxins

In 1978, 50 Hawaiian monk seals died mysteriously. Biologists thought the critically endangered mammals had been poisoned by ciguatoxins, a family of cyclic polyethers made by subtropical marine plankton and gobbled up by herbivorous fish that the seals eat. But scientists lacked the tools to directly measure the toxin. Now biologists have discovered the toxin in living seals using a noninvasive test developed to detect ciguatoxins in human blood (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es2002887).

Veterinarians at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, in Honolulu, collaborated with Marie-Yasmine Bottein and her colleagues of NOAA's Marine Biotoxins Program, in South Carolina, to track ciguatoxin in 73 monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi) throughout the Hawaiian islands. The South Carolina team had developed a blood ciguatoxin test in 2007 that detects the toxins by looking for their lethal effects on mouse cells (Toxicon, DOI: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2006.10.002). The researchers developed the method to diagnose ciguatera, a common neurotoxic disease that can affect people who eat fish from coral reefs.

Chemical & Engineering News -
26 May 2011
N Lubick


Cited Journal Article

M Bottein, et al. Identification of Ciguatoxins in Hawaiian Monk Seals Monachus schauinslandi from the Northwestern and Main Hawaiian Islands. Environ. Sci. Technol., Article online ahead of publication. doi: 10.1021/es2002887

Hundreds of fish found dead [Translated]
The following story was taken from a foreign language source and was auto-translated by Google. As a result, the language may sound odd or awkward. We hope that the information is useful even if the translation is imperfect.

To a massive fish kill, it is Schirning District Graz environment, aging. In Huber Tust calibration according to police hundreds of dead fish.

The exact amount is unclear, but it should 500-2000 kg of fish are affected, according to police.

Trigger for this fish deaths are, according to a report Trichodina and gill flukes, which are fish parasites. They should have formed by overstocking itself. In dead fish are common carp.

Steiermark -
24 May 2011
Location: Hubertusteich, Niederosterreich, Austria - Map It


Bacteria to blame on Ogeechee

A bacterial disease is the direct cause of a large fish kill on the Ogeechee River, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division announced Thursday. But the disease being fingered, Columnaris, is only a threat to fish when they’re under environmental stress and EPD has still not pinpointed the cause of that stress. Humans are not known to be affected by this bacteria.

State, federal and local agencies became aware of reports of dead fish on the river late last week. A comprehensive sampling and lab analysis of water, fish tissue and sediment began Sunday. The investigation continues to try to pinpoint why the fish were stressed enough to succumb to the bacteria. In the meantime, EPD continues to advise citizens in Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham and Screven counties not to swim in or consume fish from the Ogeechee River until further notice.

Savannah Now -
26 May 2011
M Landers
Location: Ogeechee River, Georgia, USA - Map It


Feds weighing songbirds' health in mine waste area

Over the past century, about 100 million tons of mining waste from Idaho’s Silver Valley has washed into the Coeur d’Alene River system. Ground-feeding birds such as robins, song sparrows and Swainson’s thrush ingest lead from the waste while they’re foraging for worms and insects.

Biologists are studying ground-feeding songbirds captured at Smelterville Flats, a highly polluted area along the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, alongside songbirds captured near the North Fork, where little mining occurred. By collecting blood, liver and gut samples, the biologists will compare blood-lead levels and rates of anemia in the two populations. They’ll also study reproductive success at the two locations.

Songbirds that forage in highly contaminated areas have higher blood lead levels, research has found. At Smelterville Flats, the soil’s lead levels range from 1,000 to 3,000 parts per million, well above the safe threshold for songbirds of 530 parts per million.

The Spokesman-Review -
26 May 2011
B Kramer


Photo credit: This Week in Wildlife