High lead levels were discovered in marine samples during tests around the town of Esperance, Australia in the wake of 4,000 mystery bird deaths earlier this year. The birds had all died convulsing and falling from the skies in a matter of days.
The lead source was found to be lead carbonate exported through the port by a mining company which has ceased sending this product to the town. Fish had been off the menu in the southern town since March 2007 and now its back on the menu again. The Department of Health has given the all-clear to fishing near the Port of Esperance after tests showed generally low lead levels in more than 40 fish caught in the area.
Western Australia’s Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has been unable to determine what killed up to 4000 nectar-eating birds in and around Esperance between December 7, 2006 and January 2, 2007.
The birds, mostly yellow-throated miners, wattle birds, new holland honeyeaters and silvereyes, plus some seagulls and pigeons, were found dead near water sources such as sprinklers and water tanks.
The DEC said bird viruses and bacteriological causes had been ruled out as the cause of death and toxins were still the most likely culprit.
DEC Nature Protection Branch manager Dave Mell today said the department had recently received reports of groups of dead birds - up to as many as 200 - at Yealering, Kellerberrin, Cunderdin, Kulin and Kukerin, in the state’s wheatbelt.
But Mr Mell said he did not believe the deaths were related to those around Esperance.
“The recent deaths have coincided with high temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius and strong winds, and we believe it’s most likely the deaths can be attributed to the extreme weather conditions,” Mr Mell said.
More than 1,600 sea bird carcasses had washed onto Unalaska shores over two days in September 2006 in a mysterious die-off that scientists are scrambling to understand.
In a collision with a boat, several hundred black, gull-like shearwaters died after flying into a crabbing boat that steamed through the early morning darkness in
The Fish and Wildlife Service said they expect the total number of dead birds is much larger than the 1,600 carcasses that have been found and had coordinated a carcass retrieval to get birds delivered to laboratories for testing which is the real way to determine the cause of the dieoff they said. On Thursday August 31st 2006, they were also trying to contact people along the Aleutian Islands and out in the
Seabird specialist Art Sowls at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in Homer said he had neither heard nor read of massive numbers of shearwaters dying in a collision with a ship or ships.
“It’s not unusual to have birds dying,” he said, but to have hundreds or thousands of them die-off is unusual. He stated further that “Typically, you find a fairly small percentage of the ones that die,” Sowls said.
Though this topic of bird deaths seems to be little known by most people except those that are directly affected; there have been some very interesting comments across blogs and other news sites which allow reader comments on the apparent mass die-out of birds.
Some are saying that together with the foul scent that pervaded
The latter would perhaps be welcomed by the Society for Conservation Biology which holds an annual meeting that was last held in
“I’m just glad I’m retiring soon and won’t be around to see everything disappear,” said P. Dee Boersma, former president of the society, during the opening night’s dinner. Other veteran field biologists around the table had murmured in sullen agreement.
At the next morning’s keynote address, Robert M. May, a University of Oxford zoologist who presides over the Royal Society and until last year served as chief scientific adviser to the British government, did his best to disabuse any remaining optimists of their rosy outlook.
According to May’s latest rough estimate, the extinction rate - the pace at which species vanish - accelerated during the past 100 years to roughly 1,000 times what it was before humans showed up. Various lines of argument, he explained, “suggest a speeding up by a further factor of 10 over the next century or so…. And that puts us squarely on the breaking edge of the sixth great wave of extinction in the history of life on Earth.”