Archive | Fish

Invasive Fish Not As Fearsome As Thought

NORFOLK, Va., Sept. 14 (UPI) — Despite efforts to wipe them out, a species of invasive fish, Asian carp, in the Potomac River nicknamed “Frankenfish” is here to stay, scientists say.

The northern snakehead, native to China, Korea and Russia and resembling a cross between an eel, a snake and a piranha, has been found in wide areas of the Potomac basin, the (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday.

“We’re talking about 100 miles of waterway, in all these creeks and canals,” John Odenkirk, a biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said. “There’s just no way you could eradicate all of them.”

Snakeheads have been found in almost every creek and tributary from Washington, D.C., south to the Chesapeake Bay.

Snakeheads are a popular, relatively cheap food fish in Southeast Asia, and because they can breathe oxygen and live out of water, they are believed by some to have medicinal benefits.

Scientists say they do not appear to be taking over the ecosystem, as some officials feared six years ago when the first population of wild, reproducing Asian carp was confirmed in the Potomac.

So far they have not damaged the Potomac’s prized largemouth bass population, or that of any other fish, bird or amphibian on which they feed.

“We haven’t seen any of the really bad, negative ecological effects,” Steve Minkkinen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Fish, Other0 Comments

Toxin Blamed in Death of Calif. Sea Otters

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., Sept. 13 (UPI) — A toxin produced by green blooms of freshwater bacteria has been flowing into the ocean and poisoning sea otters off California’s coast, wildlife officials say.

Scientists at the California Department of Fish and Game and the University of California, Santa Cruz, reported at least 21 sea otters, a federally listed endangered species, have been killed near Monterey, Calif., by the toxin microcystin, an article in the online journal of the Public Library of Science said.

A type of cyanobacteria called Microcystis, also known as “blue-green algae,” produces the toxin.

“This study is significant because it is the first to establish a connection between freshwater contamination by microcystin and marine mammal mortality,” Melissa Miller, a senior wildlife veterinarian with the state fish and game department, said. “This land-to-sea link has important implications for marine life and human health.”

The study team found high concentrations of microcystin in lakes bordering Monterey Bay and in rivers that flow into the bay.

“The toxin itself is extremely stable,” Raphael Kudela, professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz, said.

“In laboratory studies, we found that microcystin didn’t degrade much even after three weeks in ocean water,” she said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Fish, Other0 Comments

Canadian Scientists Claim 'muzzling'

OTTAWA, Sept. 13 (UPI) — Canadian scientists say the country’s government is trying to muzzle them, controlling what they say and who they talk to.

Scientists with Natural Resources Canada say they were told this spring they would need “pre-approval” from the office of Minister of Natural Resources Christian Paradis to speak with national and international journalists, Postmedia News reported.

Documents show the rules apply not only to contentious issues but benign subjects, such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago, Postmedia said.

Under the rules, critics say, Canadians are being cut off from scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers and is often of significant public interest on issues like fish stocks, genetically modified crops or mercury pollution in the Athabasca River.

“We have new media interview procedures that require pre-approval of certain types of interview requests by the minister’s office,” Judy Samoil, NRCan’s communications manager, wrote in an e-mail to colleagues.

The policy applies to “high-profile” issues such as “climate change, oilsands” and when “the reporter is with an international or national media organization,” she wrote.

The ministry defended the new rules.

“The minister is the primary spokesperson for Natural Resources Canada. As such, he needs to be made aware of issues in the media which involve the department so he can effectively fulfill his role,” a statement from the minister’s office said.

“It’s Orwellian,” said Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at University of Victoria.

“The sad reality is that these guys in Ottawa think federal scientists work for them.They don’t, they work for the people of Canada,” he said.

“This is science funded by Canada for the public good. It is not science funded to produce briefing notes for ministers so they can get elected in the next federal campaign.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Fish, Journalists, Other0 Comments

Flying Fish Give Up Secrets in Wind Tunnel

SEOUL, Sept. 10 (UPI) — Researchers in South Korea say a study of flying fish aerodynamics shows them ideally suited to both flying and swimming.

Flying fish can remain airborne for more than 40 seconds, covering distances of almost 500 yards at speeds of 40 mph.

Haecheon Choi, a mechanical engineer from Seoul National University, South Korea, decided to find out how these unexpected fliers stay aloft and published the discovery that flying fish glide as well as birds in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

By mounting stuffed fish with their fins extended in a wind tunnel Choi and his colleague Hyungamin Park tested their aerodynamics.

Calculating the fish’s lift-to-drag ratios — a measure of the horizontal distance traveled relative to the descent in height during a glide — Choi and Park found that the flying fish performed remarkably well, gliding better than insects and as well as some birds.

They also found that the fish were very stable as they glided. However, when they analyzed the stability of the fish with its fins swept back in the swimming position it was unstable, exactly what is needed for aquatic maneuverability.

So flying fish are superbly adapted for life in both environments, Choi and Park determined.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Birds, Fish, Other0 Comments

FDA View on Salmon Draws Criticism

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 (UPI) — Opponents of genetically modified foods are criticizing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for saying genetically modified salmon are safe to eat.

FDA documents just released say salmon raised by Canada’s Aqua Bounty Technologies are as safe to eat as other Atlantic salmon, with similar vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Friday.

Aqua Bounty Technologies began its attempt to have the salmon approved by the FDA 15 years ago. The salmon have been genetically modified to grow twice as fast as other Atlantic salmon.

If the salmon is approved for consumers, it would be the first genetically modified food animal on the market.

Reaction to the release of the FDA documents was swift.

“The United States could be approving a genetically engineered fish with really inadequate data, and … this opens the door to other genetically engineered animals,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

Some took issue with plans by Aqua Bounty to produce fish outside the United States for American consumers.

“By approving the fish to be raised in Canada and Panama instead of the U.S., the FDA is sidestepping a full assessment of the environmental risks,” said Jaydee Hanson of the U.S.-based Center for Food Safety.

Groups opposed to selling the salmon in the U.S. say they hope to stall the FDA approval process at public meetings set to start in 10 days.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Fish, Other0 Comments

Alaska River Turbine Not Harming Fish

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Sept. 8 (UPI) — Researchers in Alaska investigating the effects a power-generating turbine in the Yukon River is having on fish say things look good so far.

“In the brief testing that we have been able to accomplish, we have no indication that the turbine has killed or even injured any fish,” said Andrew Seitz, project leader and assistant professor of fisheries at the University of Alaska.

Alaska Power and Telephone installed the in-stream turbine near Eagle, Alaska, this summer to tests its ability to provide power for the village.

Seitz is studying the device’s potential effects on fish moving through the river channel, a U of A release said.

The 16-foot wide, 8-foot tall turbine is suspended from an anchored barge in the deepest and fastest part of the river and has four blades that spin at about 22 revolutions per minute.

“The community of Eagle, residents along the Yukon River and Alaska Power and Telephone have all been very supportive of the fish studies,” Seitz said. “Everyone’s biggest consideration is the fish.”

Researchers are using nets to capture fish at the turbine site. They are counted, measured, examined and released back into the river.

Preliminary results show very few fish are passing through the turbine and those that do are not showing any signs of injury, Seitz said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Fish, Other0 Comments

U.S. Lists 'concern' for Basking Sharks

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 (UPI) — A U.S. agency says it is designating the eastern North Pacific basking shark a “species of concern” due to a dramatic decline in its population.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service says the shark has been overfished and its population has apparently not responded to conservation measures implemented to address fishing pressure, a NOAA release said Wednesday.

Basking sharks are filter feeders most commonly found in temperate coastal waters where plankton, their main food source, is concentrated.

The eastern North Pacific population of the sharks is thought to be a single group that migrates seasonally along the West Coast from Canada to Central California, NOAA says.

Until the 1950s, commercial fishermen in California targeted the sharks for fish meal and fish oil, and Canadian fishermen targeted them until the 1970s to reduce interactions between the sharks and salmon fishing nets.

Although there has been no commercial fishing pressure for decades, scientists are worried their numbers have not rebounded.

While hundreds, and even thousands, of fish were once observed together, no group larger than three has been reported since 1993, NOAA says.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service is working with researchers along the West Coast to tag and track basking sharks, the agency says.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Conservation, Fish, Other0 Comments

Children's Book on Evolution Wins Award

LONDON, Sept. 3 (UPI) — An illustrated children’s book with an evolution theme has won an award in Britain, and its author says it’s an important topic for youngsters to learn.

“One Smart Fish,” the story of a fish that yearns to walk, written and illustrated by Chris Wormell, received the United Kingdom Booktrust Early Years Award, The Daily Telegraph reported.

“We have got to stand up for evolution,” Wormell said. “Lots of kids don’t know about it, although there are quite a few who do, and when I do readings in schools a kid will always say, ‘Are you telling me we all came from fish?’ And it gets a great discussion going.”

Wormell, 55, said he did not set out to write about evolution. He wanted to illustrate a book about fish “because they were one of my obsessions as a kid, when I collected fish in tanks.”

“I had the idea of this very smart fish, and then I had the evolution idea — that the one thing this fish wants to do more than anything is walk on the land,” he said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Fish, Other0 Comments

Group Wants Protection for SoCal Squirrel

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Environmentalists say they want the San Bernardino flying squirrel, a nocturnal glider native to Southern California mountains, listed as an endangered species.

A petition filed last week with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by the Center for Biological Diversity, based in Tucson, is seen as another attempt to combat global warming through the Endangered Species Act, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Environmentalists consider the Endangered Species Act a weapon to force regulation of coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities that spew carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases causing climate change, the newspaper said. The petition comes after the federal government granted protected status to the polar bear in 2008 based on shrinking ice sheets caused by climate change.

Under the Endangered Species Act, activists say, the government is obligated to protect threatened forms of life and, arguably, could accomplish this by putting curbs on greenhouse gases, even from sources outside a species’ local habitat.

In addition to the request for protection of the flying squirrel, the center filed petitions asking protection on climate change grounds for the ‘I’iwi, a Hawaiian songbird; the white-tailed ptarmigan, a grouse-like bird of the Rocky Mountains; and Bicknell’s thrush, a northeastern U.S. songbird.

“Climate change will have disproportionate impacts on species that live at high elevations,” Noah Greenwald, the center’s endangered species program director, said. “These four species are literally going to be pushed off the top of the mountain.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Coal, Fish, Other0 Comments

Study: Oil Sands Mining Polluting River

CALGARY, Alberta, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Oil sands mining in Canada is polluting the Athabasca River with metals known to be toxic at even low concentrations, a team of university researchers says.

University of Alberta scientists say elements being discharged by mining operations into the Athabasca include mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium, all toxic even at trace levels, a university release said Monday.

“The U of A study was deliberately designed to test claims by industry and Alberta politicians that all contaminants in the river are from natural sources,” David Schindler of the school’s department of biological sciences said.

“Rather than pollutants increasing continuously downstream in the river due to natural sources, as government has claimed, concentrations of the majority of toxins were always highest near sites of industrial activity,” Schindler said.

“The releases are in clear violation of … the Fisheries Act, which prohibits discharge of toxins in any quantity into fish-bearing waters,” he said.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Fish, Other0 Comments

No Posts in Category
Advertisement