The Globe and Mail, Aug 13, 2013 (Emphasis Added): Independent fisheries scientist Alexandra Morton is raising concerns about a disease she says is spreading through Pacific herring causing fish to hemorrhage. [...] “Two days ago I did a beach seine on Malcolm Island [near Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island] and I got approximately 100 of these little herring and they were not only bleeding from their fins, but their bellies, their chins, their eyeballs. [...] “It was 100 per cent … I couldn’t find any that weren’t bleeding to some degree. And they were schooling with young sockeye [salmon]”
Sun News, Aug 12, 2013: [Morton] dragged up several hundred of the fish this past weekend and found the apparent infection had spread – instead of their usual silver colour the fish had eyes, tails, underbellies, gills and faces plastered with the sickly red colour. “I have never seen fish that looked this bad,” [...] In June, the affected fish were only found in eastern Johnstone Strait, but have since spread to Alert Bay and Sointula, she said.
Canada.com, Aug 16, 2013: Morton [...] pulled up a net of about 100 herring near Sointula and found they were all bleeding. “It was pretty shocking to see,” said Morton [...] Herring school with small sockeye salmon and are also eaten by chinook and coho.
‘Response’ from Canadian Government
Vancouver 24 hrs, Aug 11, 2013: [Morton] says Fisheries and Oceans Canada [FOC] is ignoring the problem. [...] According to emails from FOC, the federal authority had asked the marine biologist to send in 20 to 30 herring in September 2011, saying that would be “more than sufficient for the lab to look for clinical signs of disease and provide sufficient diagnostics.” She did, and hasn’t heard back since. [...] FOC officials did not respond to a request for comment by the 24 hours presstime.
Canada.com, Aug 16, 2013: Fisheries and Oceans Canada is trying to confirm reports from an independent biologist that herring around northern Vancouver Island have a disease that is causing bleeding from their gills, bellies and eyeballs. [...] Arlene Tompkins of DFO’s [Department of Fisheries and Oceans'] salmon assessment section said staff in the Port Hardy area have not found bleeding herring. “We are trying to retrieve samples, but [Monday] we were not successful because of heavy fog,” she said. “We haven’t had any other reports of fish kills or die-offs [see salmon report below].” Tompkins has seen photographs provided by Morton [...]
There have been many other reports of mysterious sickness among West Coast North American sealife … such as dead and dying sea lions. Sea lions’ main food is herring:
Sea lions will eat a lot of different prey items: octopus, squid, small sharks. But their bread and butter is herring ….Given that pacific herring are suffering severe disease, it is worth asking whether the “unusual mortality event” among Southern California sea lions is connected.
There’s something very odd happening in the ocean and in the waters around B.C. — sea creatures are behaving strangely. And species are turning up where they are rarely seen.And the Newcastle Herald carried a report in October from a sailor saying that “the ocean is broken”:
Extraordinary marine activity…. From California all the way to Alaska.
Others point to disasters like Japan’s tsunami that triggered a nuclear crisis, but no one knows for sure.
Some – like EneNews – are convinced that the damage to sealife is due to ***ushima*. And – without doubt – the West Coast is being hit by radiation from ***ushima. And governments always cover up the extent of nuclear and other disasters for which they were partially responsible.
The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear.
“After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” [Newcastle, Australia yachtsman Ivan] Macfadyen said.
“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.
“I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen.”
In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes. [There is a huge quantity of debris
from Japan heading across the ocean towards the West Coast. But it is unclear whether the sailor is referring to this or something else. After all, there is a lot of man-made garbage
floating around the Pacific.]
And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.
On the other hand, the New York Times report that it is an abundance of anchovies near shore which are attracting the whales … and the anchovies may simply be attracted by unusually nutrient-rich waters this year:
Others theorize that ocean acidification might be the culprit. It could instead be a pathogen, although it is unlikely it would effect so many species all at once over such a wide area.
EneNews rounds up stories on unusual sealife behavior:
Vancouver SunAnd here:
, Nov. 27, 2013: Michael Harris, executive-director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association [...] said he’s been working in Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia for 30 years and has “never ever seen this kind of behaviour going on. They must sense this is a safe place to be.” […] Wild Whales Vancouver had up to 10 close encounters this season in the southern Strait of Georgia, mainly near Galiano Island [...] The whales typically rolled on their backs and sides next to the boat and looked up at the passengers. One even placed its head on the boat while spyhopping, a behaviour in which the whale rises up vertically to look above the water [...]
, Nov. 27, 2013: Capt. Jim Maya [...] who runs Maya’s Westside Whale Watch Charters, has been working on the waters of the Pacific since 1965 and says he has never seen anything like what they saw that day. [...] Maya says he estimates the whale was about 35 to 40 feet long and was an immature female. She hung around the boat for about an hour [...] Chad Nordstrom, a researcher with the Cetacean Research Lab at the Vancouver Aquarium, says they have been receiving more and more reports of humpback whale sightings along the B.C. coast, especially in the lower Strait of Georgia.
, Nov. 28, 2013: Andrea Hardaker, manager of Wild Whales Vancouver [said] “The passengers loved it. But they don’t know what to expect on the trip. Whatever they see they think is normal. For our guides and the captains, we know it isn’t normal.” [...] [Hardaker] believes these are the first such reports in local waters.
See also: CBS News: 100s of whales in bay on California coast; It’s never been like this, we just can’t even believe it — Experts: We just aren’t sure what’s going on; “A once-in-a-lifetime chance… unheard of, it’s unbelievable, nobody’s seen this” (VIDEO)
Baldo Marinovic, research biologist at the University of California, Santa CruzThe bottom line is that more research is needed. And nuclear experts said 4 days after the Japanese earthquake and that we all need to demand that fish be tested for radiation.
: “It’s a very strange year [...] The $64,000 question is why this year? [...] Now [the anchovies are] all kind of concentrating on the coast.”
Just a few weeks ago similar sightings were reported along Canada’s Pacific coast
, Nov. 6, 2013: An extraordinary string of recent whale encounters around Vancouver Island is likely due to luck, not one factor, experts say. “This has not been a typical year,” said John Ford, head of the cetacean research program at Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo. [...] The “biggie” of the bunch is the endangered North Pacific right whale, spotted twice in B.C. waters
for the first time in 60 years. [...] There have been other remarkable whale encounters [...] passengers aboard the B.C. ferry between Galiano Island and Tsawwassen were treated to the sight of a superpod of about 1,000 Pacific white-sided dolphins
Nick Claxton, Indigenous academic adviser at the University of Victoria
: Recent whale encounters could have a deeper meaning, according to an Indigenous worldview [...] “We see them as our relatives, as ancestors. All of these occurrences remind us of our place here and our connection to the natural world. It’s for the better of all of us to listen.”
Note: University of Washington Professor Trevor Branch has previously slammed our reporting on reduction in fish stocks:
I am surprised that an article composed of facts totally unrelated to ***ushima could make it past your editorial process, and the story has been widely derided by blogs and on twitter. Below is my response detailing the latest science, with the article attached in case you are unable to find it.We responded at the time:In any event, this post does not argue that the injury to sealife is due to ***ushima … we honestly don’t know the cause or causes of the unusual behavior in ocean life, and are only certain of one thing: the U.S. and Canadian governments should fund extensive testing to figure out what’s really going on, and then publicly release the results.
The scientists you quote repeated their own study on Pacific bluefin tuna in the US and ***ushima radiation testing in June 2013. Here are some highlights from their findings.
1. Radiation in bluefin from ***ushima is 1/1000 to 1/10000 of the radiation in natural seawater.
2. Radiation in bluefin from ***ushima is less than in food you eat every day that is uncontaminated (and much much less than x-rays, flying in a plane etc).
3. If 10,000,000 people each ate 124 kg per yr of bluefin tuna every year (which is a LOT), 2 might die from radiation.
4. However, global catch of Pacific bluefin is 20,000 t a year, allowing only 161,000 people to eat that much, resulting in only 0.03 extra deaths per year.
5. If they ate less, the risk would be much less.
6. Since a single Pacific bluefin tuna sold this year for $1.8 million, they would also be left in poverty. (Not all sell for that
much, I know.)
Now the salmon and herring in U.S. waters do not travel anywhere near ***ushima, and would have a radiation load thousands to millions of times lower. These fish have local populations and are quite distinct from those populations near ***ushima. Radiation from ***ushima is diluted very rapidly within a few km of the leaks (the volume of the ocean is vast), and further than that the radiation is less than the radiation from naturally occurring polonium in the ocean.
All of the scary stories compiled in the article are just that, scary stories completely unrelated to ***ushima. For example the quotes from Morton are specifically about disease in fish that has nothing to do with radiation.
To preserve the integrity of your news blog, I would suggest retracting the article.
* EneNews was the main source of information for this essay. For example, here’s a one-sentence round-up of ocean weirdness from EneNews: