Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sea floor littered with dead animals? No. Starfish Wasting due to radiation? No.

One of the ideas being floated around is that the "Sea Floor is Littered with the Carcasses of Dead Sea Animals" who died from radiation from the Fukushima disaster.  The stories have all looked to be too far gone into la-la-land for me to even note them here.  A related story is about Starfish Wasting Syndrome, where lots of starfish are dying on both the East and West coasts of the US, which many are also blaming on radiation from Fukushima, but the only evidence I could find was that it's some kind of disease and that large scale starfish die-off's have occurred in the past.

Over on Deap Sea News they've written up debunkings of both stories.

Is the sea floor littered with dead animals due to radiation? No. - According to DSN - the author of the DSN post had formerly worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), the institution which supposedly published the source paper behind the story - MBARI has published no paper describing anything of the sort.

MBARI did publish a study titled Energetics of life on the deep seafloor studying the patterns of phytoplankton blooms near Monterey Bay.  Another paper is Smith, K. L., H. A. Ruhl, M. Kahru, C. L. Huffard, and A. D. Sherman. (2013). Deep ocean communities impacted by changing climate over 24 y in the abyssal northeast Pacific Ocean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,

Between them DSN says the research focuses on phytoplankton and diatom (tiny sea animals) that have been blooming since 2002, who live then die and their bodies sink to the ocean floor.  In the deep ocean other animals exist to eat those dead bodies.  It's described as "marine snow" and is a naturally occurring thing, that began well before the Fukushima event.

Now, DSN also discounts the idea that the Ocean Is Dying (because of Fukushima).  I wonder what DSN would say to this presentation by Jeremy Jackson, Ocean Apocalypse, he gave recently at the Naval War College in which he said the Ocean is Dying.  In Jackson's telling, rising ocean temperatures, overfishing, pollution, and other effects are causing massive shifts in the mix of animals and plants in the oceans.  The big sea animals are almost all gone, and what's taking place of the once vibrant sea life is slime.  In other words, a half billion years of evolution of sealife is being erased from the ocean.

The kicker?  It has nothing to do with Fukushima and has everything to do with other poisons.

Three Reasons Why Fukushima Radiation Has Nothing to Do with Starfish Wasting Syndrome - DSN has a guest blog post from Chris Mah, a Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History researcher, who "broke" the story of a large-scale die-off of starfish in the Pacific and Atlantic.  He goes over why this has nothing to do with radiation:

Here's how he put it:
  1. Starfish Wasting Disease/Syndrome (SWD/SWS) pre-Dates Fukushima by 3 to 15 years. This is probably the most self-evident of reasons. One of the earliest accounts of starfish wasting disease was recorded from Southern California (Channel Islands) in 1997 (pdf).  The account of SWS in British Columbia was first documented by Bates et al. in 2009, and their data was collected in 2008.  Fukushima? March 2011.
  2. Starfish Wasting Syndrome Occurs on the East Coast as well as the Pacific. Many of the accounts alleging a Fukushima connection to Starfish Wasting Syndrome forget that there are also accounts of SWS on the east coast of the United States affecting the asteriid Asterias rubens. There is no evidence (or apparent mechanism) for Fukushima radiation to have reached the east coast and therefore the Fukushima idea is again not supported.
  3. No other life in these regions seems to have been affected. If we watch the original British Columbia Pycnopodia die-off videos, and the later Washington state die-off vidoes, one cannot help but notice that other than the starfish, EVERYTHING else remains alive. Fish. Seaweed, encrusting animals. etc.

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