Transition Update: Extreme Stress in the Animal Kingdom

Forests precede civilizations…deserts follow them.
–Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand, 1768-1848

What is the effect of acceleration in the animal kingdom? What is the Transition? Part 3 showed a chart of the acceleration, the parabolic rise, of species extinction. And while that level of abstraction is important to grasp, seeing the details is another matter. The following articles, collected from the web over just the last four weeks, help to bring home the reality of the current stresses on the animal kingdom. Mass deaths are happening across the world, across many species. These incidents show that we’ve gone way beyond the proverbial “canary in the coal mine.” This is not business as usual.

Animals are suffering from direct poisoning by pesticides and fungicides, direct exploitation by people, habitat destruction, severe storms, weather pattern changes, pollution, cell phone tower disruption of the magnetic spectrum used by animals for navigation, ocean acidification, etc etc. But many cases remain inexplicable, even after investigations.

     Worst-ever right whale die-off continues to puzzle

Scientists still don’t know why hundreds of baby southern right whales are turning up dead around Patagonia…

     32 swans found dead at New Lake, Dunganaghy, Ireland

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine told Donegal Now that … it was still too early to say what had caused the multiple deaths.

     One-Third of U.S. Honeybee colonies died last winter, threatening food supply

Nearly one in three commercial honeybee colonies in the United States died or disappeared last winter, an unsustainable decline that threatens the nation’s food supply.

Multiple factors – pesticides, fungicides, parasites, viruses and malnutrition – are believed to cause the losses, which were officially announced today by a consortium of academic researchers, beekeepers and Department of Agriculture scientists.

     German lake full of dead carp baffles officials

Volunteers have pulled 25 tonnes of dead carp out of a lake in eastern Germany – there are so many, locals are running out of boats. Regional officials have admitted they are baffled – only carp seem to be dying in the lake.

     3 more dolphins die in Indian River Lagoon

Biologists removed three more dead bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon Monday, bringing this year’s total lagoon bottlenose body count to at least 30.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration already has declared the 100 or so manatee deaths in the lagoon since mid-2012 an Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Event. The declaration triggers NOAA’s own formal investigation. The federal agency is examining whether the dolphin and manatee deaths might be connected.

     Hundreds of dead fish wash up on Beaver Lake

It’s estimated that more than 7,000 pounds of dead fish – mostly catfish, sunfish and bass – have been taken out of Beaver Lake. But what caused this unusually large fish kill is still a mystery.

     Thousands of dead fish reported in Indian River Lagoon in southern St. Lucie County, Florida

Tony DiChristofaro of Stuart, said he saw “thousands and thousands of dead fish coming ashore” about 2 p.m. Thursday as he was walking along the lagoon beach.

DiChristofaro said the dead fish extended along the shoreline for about a mile.

     More than 1000 birds now dead as result of coastal chemical spill in UK

The substance has been identified as polyisobutene (PIB) by researchers at Plymouth University. It is the second time in just three months that PIB has killed hundreds of seabirds in the South West.

     Video: Thousands of dead jelly fish at Umargam Beach

Seen in April 2013 there were thousands of dead jelly fish seen on sea beach of Umargam.

     Big freeze – UK livestock death toll hits 100,000

English, Scottish and Welsh sheep losses in April were 50% higher than April 2012 costing 35,000 extra lives

Welsh cattle losses in April were more than double 2012’s equivalent to almost 2,700 head

Cattle losses in England and Scotland in April were about a quarter more than 2012 (23% and 25% to 13,800 and 9,700 head respectively)

Cattle losses for England, Scotland and Wales were up 34% and more than 7,000.

     Central Africa elephant population down 62% in 10 years

Poaching on an “industrial” scale has slashed the elephant population in the countries of central Africa by nearly two-thirds…

     Weather changes impact migrating birds

Experts say there has been an increase in the number of migratory birds falling from the sky in the region.

     Health defects found in fish exposed to Deepwater Horizon oil spill, three years later

With researchers from Louisiana and South Carolina, the scientists found that Gulf killifish embryos exposed to sediments from oiled locations in 2010 and 2011 show developmental abnormalities, including heart defects, delayed hatching and reduced hatching success. The killifish is an environmental indicator species, or a “canary in the coal mine,” used to predict broader exposures and health risks.

     Dead dolphins and shrimp with no eyes found after BP clean-up

Hundreds of beached dolphin carcasses, shrimp with no eyes, contaminated fish, ancient corals caked in oil and some seriously unwell people are among the legacies that scientists are still uncovering in the wake of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill.

     Cocktail of multiple pressures combine to threaten the world’s pollinating insects

     Mysterious dead fish at Eagles Mere Lake, Pennsylvania

     Dead birds “falling from the sky” in Port Arthur, Texas neighborhood

     Hundreds of birds die of starvation after spring snowstorm in Colorado

     Manatee deaths at Indian River Lagoon, Florida: Questions abound in mysterious deaths of manatees, pelicans

     Minnesota man watches as waxwings began ‘dropping out of the sky’

     Hawaii: Kaua’i coral disease worsening, says doctor

     100 dolphins wash up on Italian coast after being hit by killer strain of measles

     Storm kills 10 thousand birds in Jhenidah, Bangladesh

     Wales: Worry over marsh horses ‘dropping dead like flies’

     Update: More than 12,000 birds crashed in Utah’s Dugway proving grounds

     Australia: Oyster crop hit by unknown disease

     Enduring winter tough on migratory birds in Great Plains

     China’s Animal Apocalypse Spreads To Dogs

     238 pigs and 89 dogs “suddenly dead” in Chinese village

     Sea lion strandings climb, scientists still stumped

     Australia: Another fish kill stinks out Wonnerup

     Snow storm: Sheep death toll reaches 20,000 in Northern Ireland

     Bird jams: Long winter sends migratory flocks into tailspin in Germany

     Over 100 dead birds found in Danville & Pittsylvania County

Different species of birds found dead in Trinidad shortly after mysterious mass vulture deaths

     Peru: 10 Dolphins found dead in northern beaches

     150 Black vultures mysteriously die in Chaguaramas, Trinidad

     Rare birds killed off after migration north sees them face freezing temperatures back in UK

     Over 8,000 dead sheep removed from Northern Ireland farms following record Spring snowfall

     Mass death of multiple sea creatures along east coast of UK

     ‘Tonnes’ of dead fish found on Swedish lake

     Video of grieving pink dolphin mother underscores plight of disappearing species

“There were about four or five dolphins in the water and it seemed at first as if they were trying to get hold of something and support it,” said Ho Tak-ching, 34, a guide with Hong Kong Dolphinwatch. “It really wasn’t normal behaviour.”

The dolphins were trying to help a mother support the body of her dead calf and stop it slipping below the water’s surface.

Grieving and unable to accept their calves’ deaths, the mother dolphins will spend up to two weeks trying to keep them on the surface of the water, exhausting themselves and going without food as other dolphins rally to help them.

The events above were from just one month. It seems more than likely that there are many, many more incidents that are unseen and unreported. And of course it’s true that our physical bodies are subject to many of the same stresses plaguing the animals. But hey, as long as lots of people are shopping, things must be fine.

One thought on “Transition Update: Extreme Stress in the Animal Kingdom

  1. I sit here and weep sensing nature’s stress – and had a dream last night about the breaking apart of our world…

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