Monday, January 3, 2011

Things That Make You Go Hmmm....Dead Birds and Fish

There are some things in the news that really catch my attention. The following headline “Thousands of dead birds and fish in Arkansas leave many scratching their heads” , did just that.

On roads, on roofs, on lawns, up to 5,000 blackbirds fell within a one-mile area. Most of them were dead.

The report stated that approximately 5,000 red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky over a mile of land near Beebe, a small town in northwest Arkansas, and observers spotted the fish kill near the town of Ozark. The recent wildlife deaths in Arkansas that happened around New Year’s Day is definitely a mysterious incident.

No one seems to know what caused the deaths, but there are many theories and various conclusions from local authorities:

  • "Test results usually were inconclusive, but the birds showed physical trauma and that the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail."
  • Because it happened New Year's Eve, some officials suggest that revelers shooting fireworks may have spooked the birds, to the point that they died en masse from stress-induced cardiac arrest.
  • "It is unlikely they were poisoned but a necropsy is the only way to determine if the birds died from trauma or toxin." Tests were to begin Monday.
  • A state veterinarian states that preliminary necropsy results show that the birds died of multiple blunt trauma to their vital organs.

This is not a rural gravel road. It's a Louisiana waterway, its surface completely covered with dead sea life -- a mishmash of species of fish, crabs, stingray and eel. This incident took place in a stretch of coastal Louisiana that was hit hard this summer by oil from BP's busted Gulf well.

This massive fish kill occurred 125 miles west of the site, wildlife officials say that the estimated 100,000 drum fish discovered by a tugboat captain over a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River appears to be a natural occurrence that isn't tied to the bird kill in any way.

According to news reports fish kills are fairly common along the Gulf Coast, particularly during the summer in the area near the mouth of the Mississippi, the site of this kill. The area is rife with dead zones -- stretches where sudden oxygen depletion can cause widespread death. But those kills tend to be limited to a single species of fish, rather than the broad sort of die-off involved in this kill.

  • And therein lies the concern of Gulf residents, who suspect this may be yet another side effect of the catastrophic BP oil spill.
  • Various species of single-celled plantlike organisms flourish in waters enriched with chemical nutrients -- organisms that go on to vastly deplete the oxygen in the water they inhabit.
  • The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries investigated the fish kill and determined that it was the result of low oxygen levels caused by low tides and high temperatures.

So there you have it - more than 5,000 dead birds and more than 100,000 dead fish, crabs, stingray and eel. All died during New Year's Night without any immediate explanation.

(Information compiled from various news reports)

It certainly gives me plenty to ponder about.

What do you think? What is your theory?

Definitely comes under the heading of "Things that make you go hmmm!"


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