November 1, 2011

Today's Wildlife Disease News Stories


Mass Wildlife Death After Sewage Pours Into Twickenham River

Thousands have fish have died after raw sewage was drained into River Crane in Feltham - in the same park which recieved a £400,000 makeover from the Mayor last year.

Crane Park was awarded the money as part of Boris's Help a London Park competition in 2009 with the aim of improving the green space, making it more accessible and encouraging the local community to spend time there. Part of the plans included improving habitats for the local wildlife, which has been badly hit by the major sewage leak which began over the weekend.

A fault with a Thames Water valve, which happened while engineers carried out routine maintenance, meant the waste had to be drained away from Heathrow Airport, instead being directed into the River Crane. The Environment Agency is now working to stop it causing any more damage to wildlife in the river while Thames Water uses specialist equipment to try and stop the leak.

A spokesperson for Thames Water said: "While we are taking a lot of backed-up sewage away in tanker lorries for treatment, such is the volume of sewage we are not able to tanker all of it. Faced with the unpalatable choice of letting the remaining sewage back up into the airport or spill to the River Crane, we have been forced to opt for the latter, resulting in sewage entering the river and damaging wildlife, which we deeply regret."

31 Oct 2011
Location: Feltham, London, England - Map It


More dolphins found: 3 washed up Friday; 14 total dead in October, which is ‘not normal'

So far in October, 14 dead dolphins have washed ashore in Mississippi and Alabama. Three were found Friday in Mississippi.... “Generally, you don’t see this in October,” said Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. “This is not normal.”

There was a time when one dolphin death was an unusual event. But dolphins dying consistently, month after month, is something that has continued in the northern Gulf since the BP oil spill.

NOAA, the federal National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, is investigating the deaths. The agency said in a statement Thursday five of 21 dolphins that died in Louisiana in 2010 were killed by the bacterium brucella. That’s 21 of the 580 that have been discovered dead in the northern Gulf since February 2010, three months before the spill. NOAA has said something was killing dolphins before the spill, but added exposure to the oil could have worn down the animals and made them more susceptible to disease. NOAA hasn’t drawn any conclusion about the deaths, but the investigation is continuing.

Sun Herald -
28 Oct 2011
Location: Harrison County, Mississippi, USA - Map It
Alabama, USA - Map It

Researchers Battle Parasite-Driven Frog Deformities

At a University of Colorado lab, a leopard frog named Flipper flaps a half-formed seventh leg as he tries to navigate his aquarium. Another frog kicks himself onto his back and, burdened with two useless extra legs, can't manage to turn himself over again.

These frogs in Pieter Johnson's lab are just a handful of thousands of multi-limbed frogs in North America. Johnson, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, has been studying these malformations since they first gained national attention in the mid-1990s, when a group of school children in Minnesota found that a local pond had an abnormally high number of amphibians with deformities. The deformed frogs began popping up all over the place - California, Oregon, and Quebec, to name a few hot spots.

The main culprit is a parasite, or flatworm, called Ribeiroia ondatrae, according to Johnson.
"This parasite, this tiny little invertebrate, is manipulating frogs and changes body plans to alter development and increase its own spread," he said.

Johnson and his team are now trying to understand factors that drive the various infections and malformations in these frogs, while searching for ways to reduce the number of deformities.

"We are running experiments looking at shifts in temperature, runoff of nutrients and pesticides, and biodiversity loss to evaluate their potential influence," he said.

25 Oct 2011


Photo courtesy of The Guardian's Week in Wildlife