Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More tests suggest Lake Erie fish die-off was natural causes, MOE says

The Ontario Ministry of Environment reiterated Friday
that thousands of fish died because of a naturally occurring
lake inversion rather than a spill.
(The Windsor Star-Ministry of Environment Photo)
Samples from the dead fish that littered beaches along Lake Erie Labour Day weekend showed no signs of bacterial infections, botulism or a fish disease called viral hemorrhagic septicemia, Ministry of Environment spokeswoman Kate Jordan said Friday.

“At this time all the information we have suggests the fish were killed due to natural causes,” she said.

The tens of thousands of fish that came up on 40 kilometres of Lake Erie shoreline in Chatham-Kent and Elgin County Sept. 1 seem to have been caught up in water with low oxygen levels. Jordan said strong southwest winds rippled over the lake causing the colder lake bottom water to come up. The bottom of the lake is where the lowest levels of oxygen exist because that’s where plants decompose and use up a lot of the oxygen, she said. So the fish end up gulping for air and suffocating and being pushed to shore either dead or still gulping for air.

“We see it every couple years in Lake Erie,” Jordan said.

Initial field samples and then water test results last week pointed to natural causes and the MOE has repeatedly said there was not a manure spill or any signs of contaminants found in the water.

The Windsor Star - blogwindsorstar.com
14 Sep 2012
S Hill
Location: View location of cases reported in the news on Lake Erie
on the Global Wildlife Disease News Map

Monday, September 17, 2012

Avian botulism showing up in birds again

After a quiet 2011, Antrim County propery owners along the shores of Grand Traverse Bay are once again being asked to keep their eyes open for dead waterfowl and shorebirds on their beaches with the re-appearance of deadly avian botulism believed to be responsible for the deaths of a number of birds along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan in recent weeks.

Loons, scoters, grebes, and piping plovers are among thousands of birds found dead, with Type E botulism confirmed as the cause of death by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in bird carcasses collected from several locations along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Antrim Review - www.antrimreview.net
06 Sep 2012
L Gallagher
Location: Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan, USA - Map It

Friday, September 14, 2012

Scientist warns of heavier storms, more algae

An increasingly warm climate is worsening the problem of harmful Great Lakes algae blooms by boosting the intensity of spring rains that wash phosphorus into the waters, a scientist said Wednesday during a conference for advocates and policymakers.

The trend is likely to continue over the coming century, heightening the urgency to control runoff of dissolved phosphorus that promotes excessive algae growth, said Don Scavia, director of the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute.

..."Climate change is likely to make reducing phosphorous loads even more difficult in the future than it is now, which will likely lead to even more toxic algae blooms and larger dead zones unless more conservation is undertaken," he said.

Daily Press - www.dailypress.net
13 Sep 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Avian botulism reported by Watershed Council

Photo courtesy of Harbor Light News
After a relatively quiet season in 2011, dead birds are again appearing on the Lake Michigan shoreline, and this year much earlier than anticipated.

“Calls have been coming in for the past two weeks with reports of migratory waterfowl washing up on local beaches” said Kevin Cronk, Research and Monitoring Coordinator for Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council. “While the numbers are small, it is much earlier in the season than usual. We don’t typically have this many reports until late September to early October.

We are just at the beginning of ‘avian botulism season’ and calls this early may indicate a dramatic increase in bird mortality in the next few months.”

Harbor Light News - www.harborlightnews.com
05 Sep 2012
Watershed Council
Location:  Lake Michigan (Emmet Co.), Michigan, USA - Map It  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lake Eerie Mystery: Dead Birds, Fish, Wash Up By The Thousands Causing Massive Stink

Photo courtesy of News Gather
Lake Eerie is living up to its name. The Ontario side of the Great Lake is the source of a major mystery as thousands of dead fish and birds have been washing up on shore. The story seems eerily (no pun intended) reminiscent of the massive animal die offs of early 2011, but it's not clear if there is any connection.

Apparently, the fish and birds starting showing up on Friday and causing a massive stink as they did so.

... Dr. Colby said "there are other possible causes for the dead fish such as a fish disease called viral hemorrhagic septicemia and Type E botulism, a bacterial toxin which would kill birds that feed on dead fish. He said he's already seen a sick gull near the dead fish but that is not conclusive evidence."

News Gather - news.gather.com
06 Sep 2012
L Shaw

Location: Lake Erie, Ontario, Canada - Map It   

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Scientists tackle Lake Erie algae: Toxic bloom is one of many environmental problems facing lake

Algae like this has become more common on Lake Erie as farm,
lawn and other phosphorus runoffs end up in the lake.
(Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
Scientists gathered this week to discuss the health of the Great Lakes said Monday that recent environmental threats plaguing Lake Erie — from low water levels to the possibility of Asian carp — are diverting attention from a larger, looming threat: toxic algae blooms.

So far this year, water levels have been well below their historical averages. Scientists recently discovered DNA evidence of Asian carp in the lake for the first time. And a significant fish kill along the shore near Cleveland in July was repeated last week on the Canadian side of the lake near Chatham.

But, as recently as last year, scientists tracked a massive toxic algae bloom that, from space, appeared to cover almost the entire western third of the lake. The dangerous blooms have become more common.

Detroit News - www.detroitnews
11 Sep 2012
J Lynch

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Toxic Erie algae bloom worst in decades

Last year was the worst season of toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie in decades and the International Joint Commission wants to know how much that hurt the economy on both sides of the border.

"It could easily be tens of millions (of dollars)," John Nevin, the public affairs adviser for the IJC's Great Lakes regional office in Windsor, said Monday.

... Research on the algal blooms is expected to be done at the end of the year and a draft report will be released in the summer of 2013. The final report with specific recommendations is expected by October 2013.

...The concern with climate change is if water temperatures in the lake get warmer and warmer it could increase the blue-green algae growth. The warmth and extra nutrients boost the growth and decay of plants and, as the algae rots, it robs the lake of oxygen which can kill fish.

Algal blooms haven't been a huge problem so far this summer in Lake Erie because it was so dry there was less run-off of fertilizer, Nevin said. There has been one algal bloom wash up in the Monroe, Mich., area last week, he said. The blooms usually appear in the late summer and fall.

The Windsor Star - www.windsorstar.com
28 Aug 2012
S Hill
Location: Lake Erie, Canada