Monday, January 03, 2011

Today in the Environmental Apocalypse

You might have heard of the 4000 red-winged blackbirds that dropped dead out of the sky in Arkansas the other day. Extremely depressing. No one has any idea why. But if  you thought that was a freak thing, it wasn't even the only crazy die-off in Arkansas last week!!!

One thing is almost certain: the bird drop is not related to the 83,000 fish that died a few days earlier in the western part of the state, the biggest fish kill in Arkansas that anyone can remember. They were spotted by anglers last week and reported to the Game and Fish Commission, which spent New Year’s Eve measuring and counting dead fish that had spread out for nearly 20 miles.

In that case, the victims were almost all drum, and almost all younger ones. That suggests the culprit was disease, said Mark Oliver, the commission’s chief of fisheries. He said that fish kills were not uncommon, especially in winter when fish are packed more closely, but he did not recall one of this size.
State officials have sent samples of dying, but not yet dead, fish to the fish disease lab at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, which could take a couple of weeks to reach conclusions.


As Rachel Carson pointed out so long ago, if you have random unexplained die-offs of enough animals, eventually the next random unexplained die-off is going to be of human beings.