Wildlife

Massive Fish Die Off

Australia’s record heat and severe drought this Southern Hemisphere summer have led to the deaths of more than a million fish in some drought-stricken areas.

Residents along New South Wales’ Darling River report seeing a “sea of white” as dead fish blanketed the waterway near the Outback town of Menindee. Low water levels, toxic algae and oxygen depletion are said to be the main causes of the die-offs.

Australia’s back-to-back heat waves in recent weeks have pushed the endurance of humans and animals, as well as the country’s power grid, to the limit. Many Australians, used to broiling summers, say the season seems to be growing hotter.

Britain’s Hares Dying

Britain’s wild brown hares are being made ill and killed by a pathogen found to be the deadly rabbit hemorrhagic disease type 2.

Numbers of the beloved animals, which have a special place in British folklore, have plummeted by about 80 percent in recent decades, manly due to a shift to intensive agriculture that has destroyed their habitats and food supplies.

Members of the public who come across dead hares are asked to contact biological scientist Diana Bell of the University of East Anglia so the bodies can be tested for disease. She says the hemorrhagic disease is only one of two pathogens being found in dead hares.

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Vanishing Stars

The once abundant sunflower starfish that lives along the Pacific coast of North America is disappearing at an alarming rate due to a combination of warming waters and infectious diseases.

A new US study found that the population of the species declined by 80 to 100 percent in the waters from Alaska southward to California during the three years beginning in 2013.

Researcher Joseph Gaydos, of the University of California, Davis, says the ravenous manhole-cover-sized starfish are important to the seabed ecology because they keep the sea urchin population under control.

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