More Fish, Bird Deaths, This Time World Wide

Courtesy NBC
Friday, January 7, 2011 - 7:18pm

FOLLY BEACH, S.C.— More reports of dead fish on Friday, after thousands of dead fish washed ashore in South Carolina.

Around 10,000 menhaden were washed ashore on Folly Beach, southwest of Charleston. The dead bait fish were likely killed by cold water temperatures. Small fish and other species are affected when temperatures drop to 47 degrees. Temperatures were recorded at 48 degrees along the coast earlier this week.

There were no reports of dead fish in surrounding beaches.

Previously, hundreds if not thousands of dead birds were falling dead from the sky in Italy earlier this week.

Kentucky wildlife officials said there were previous dead birds found in the state last week.

Millions of dead fish also washed ashore in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay on Tuesday. Maryland Department of the Environment spokesperson Dawn Stoltzfus said cold-water and stress could be the likely cause of the deaths. Stoltzfus also said that similar large winter fish deaths were documented in 1976 and 1980.

Similar yet unexplained fish deaths occurred in Brazil as well as New Zealand. Reports of 100 tons of sardines, croaker and catfish began washing ashore dead since last Thursday. The cause of death is unknown. In New Zealand, hundreds of dead snapper fish, many with their eyes missing, washed up on Coromandel Peninsula beaches.

About 500 blackbirds and starlings have been found about 300 miles away from Beebe, Arkansas, where just days earlier the same bird species were falling dead from the sky, while at least 100,000 dead drum fish washed ashore.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Office in Lake Charles has been recovering as many of the blackbirds as possible for further testing. Biologists are also collecting samples from the birds to send for testing at the University of Georgia and the National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin for genetic and pathogenic testing to determine what may have killed them.

On January 3, reports said nearly 3,000 red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, and European Starlings were dropping dead from the sky within a one-mile radius near Beebe on December 31. The birds were dead when they hit the ground. Autopsies conducted on 17 birds revealed the birds died due to multiple blunt trauma to their vital organs. Poison has been ruled out, and state biologists believe stress or weather might have played a vital role.

In a river near Ozark, thousands of dead fish were discovered, though Game and Fish officials said that incident is unrelated to the bird deaths.

A storm tore through the state of Arkansas on New Year's Eve and killed three people in Cincinnati, Arkansas. The National Weather Service said winds were registered at up to 140 mph.
125 miles away from Beebe, Arkansas, nearly 100,000 fish were found dead along the Arkansas River near Ozark. Game and Fish officials believe the drum fish were killed by a disease, though test results are still pending. Officials also said the disease could not have been from a pollutant since all fish, not just the drum fish, would have been affected.

The fish washed ashore along a 20-mile stretch of the river between Ozark and Clarksville.

 The results could take up to a month.

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