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Dolphins and penguins are dying too!

Posted by te2ataria on August 7, 2009

sent by a reader

The Deadly, Toxic-Algae-Green New Zealand

First read:

Dogs in Rigor Mortis and Dead Pilchards…

Health authorities now say toxic algae may be the most likely cause of death and illness in dogs walking on the Auckland beaches; they had initially suspected malicious poisoning, and for good reasons too. Murdering people and animals by poisoning them with powerful poisons such as 1080, Brodifacoum [dubbed “bloody-f*ck-em”] and the likes, are all too common everyday occurrences in New Zealand.

It has since been revealed that dead dolphins and penguins have also been found on Auckland beaches. See excerpts from a new story breaking out:

auckland mass deaths
Scientists are trying to find out whether there is a link between dog deaths on the beaches and dying dolphins, penguins and pilchards. Photo /Greg Bowker. Image may be subject to copyright.

Toxic algae prime killing suspect

A spokeswoman for the Auckland Regional Public Health Service said officials believed a dog-poisoner was at work when they first heard reports of sick dogs, two months ago on Kohimarama beach. The dogs had been seen eating something above the high-tide mark so natural toxins seemed unlikely, she said.

Reports of sick dogs in Blockhouse Bay parks last year turned out to be deliberate poisoning with laced sausages.

A dog-poisoner was again suspected when two dogs were reported dead at Narrow Neck beach, said medical officer of health Denise Barnfather.

It was not until health officials heard of sick dogs at Waiheke and Browns Bay and deaths of other wildlife, on Monday, that they suspected something was in the seawater.

About the same time, the Department of Conservation connected the dog deaths to increasing numbers of dead penguins in the past week.

Scientists are trying to find the link, if any, between the dog deaths and unusually high numbers of dead dolphins, penguins and pilchards in the Hauraki Gulf.

Andy James, who lives locally, had “reported to the Department of Conservation of seeing up to 40 dead little blue penguins in the past two weeks on beaches north of Auckland at Mangawhai, Pakiri, and Te Arai.” Nzherald said.

Russell resident Alan Wilkinson found five dead little blue penguins at Brick Bay and nearby Tapeka Bay on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Another reader reported seeing eight large jellyfish, possibly Lion’s Manes – a large pink-red creature whose venom can affect the respiratory system – at Takapuna yesterday.

However, Michael Beasley, from the National Poisons Centre, said jellyfish stings would be unlikely to cause the kind of symptoms reported in the ill dogs. The medical toxicologist suggested algal poisoning was more likely, although he stressed he was not an expert in the area.

He listed several symptoms of algal poisoning matching those of the dead and ill dogs. People and dogs can become ill if they eat shellfish or other marine animals that feed on toxic algae.

Shellfish can accumulate much toxins , without being harmed, and pass it on up the food chain. Victims’ symptoms may include weakness, paralysis of limbs, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, possibly seizures and death.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is believed to be treating toxic algae as the most likely cause of the dog deaths, although a spokeswoman stressed that the only cause ruled out was 1080 or Brodifacoum poisoning.

Meanwhile the Ministry completed the third of three drops of the rat poison Brodifacoum on Rangitoto and Motutapu islands yesterday, Nzh said.

Related Links:

4 Responses to “Dolphins and penguins are dying too!”

  1. […] Dolphins and penguins are dying too! […]

  2. te2ataria said


    Great Barrier Island included in sea, beach warning

    Hauraki Gulf ban extends to fishing and diving

  3. […] by feww on December 28, 2009 Our thanks to TEAA for the […]

  4. te2ataria said

    Dying birds stir extinction fears
    Little penguins are dying in their hundreds, leading conservationists to fear they are starving as a result of the La Nina weather system.

    Other seabirds are washing up dead on beaches, raising concerns that species could become extinct if climate change causes extreme weather events to become more frequent.

    At Wellington Zoo, two starving little blue penguin chicks have been brought in this week. One died on Wednesday and the other, found at Lyall Bay, was hanging on to life yesterday.

    The zoo’s veterinary science manager, Lisa Argilla, said petrels were also starving around Wellington’s south coast, and five shags had been brought in this month. “They’re unable to find enough food. We’ve had a lot of starvations and a lot of mortalities.”

    At Banks Peninsula, hundreds of little white-flippered penguin chicks have died of starvation, according to Shireen Helps, who has been caring for the colony on her property for about 25 years.

    “There were chicks dying in their burrows, in the hillside, and heaps dying on the water.”

    Dr Argilla said the calm La Nina seas meant fewer small fish and plankton close to the surface of the water for them to feed on.

    Those brought into the zoo were likely to be just a very small portion of those dying. She was concerned that more frequent extreme weather events could lead to extinctions in some species – penguins, for example, needed five or six years of good conditions for populations to regenerate.

    The strong La Nina had brought with it conditions that made for a bad breeding year. “They’re natural occurrences that always happen, but now they’re happening more regularly and it’s playing havoc with wildlife populations.”

    However, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research principal scientist James Renwick said it was unknown whether La Nina would be stronger or happen more frequently in future.

    This year’s La Nina was the strongest since 1975, when Conservation Department seabird scientist Graeme Taylor said many hundreds of seabirds died.

    This year shearwaters in northern North Island colonies were dying because of a lack of feeding opportunities, he said, and gannets at Muriwai and Great Barrier Island had experienced a “major failure” of breeding. “Birds are just sitting on empty nests.”

    Mrs Helps and husband Francis have 1063 breeding pairs at their colony, but most of the chicks that hatched between October and December have died.

    The population had risen from 717 breeding pairs in 2000, but Mrs Helps believed the number of little penguins at the colony could fall next year.

    Unusually warm currents had made it difficult for adults to find food, leading them to stay out searching at sea for too long while their chicks needed feeding, she said.

    “The chicks got thirsty and hungry and realised Mum and Dad weren’t coming back. A lot ended up in the sea but they were too young.”

    The penguins needed to weigh at least a kilogram before they could survive at sea, but when chicks were rescued, it was initially difficult to get them eating again.
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    “If they’ve had no food for a long time, their whole system shuts down and they can’t digest it. Even if you feed them, they start spitting it up again.”

    Conservation Department vet Kate McInnes said that, during La Nina, cold currents did not come up around New Zealand and stir up the ocean to bring food near the surface.

    She also advised that freeing birds rescued from starvation was risky.

    “There’s still no food out there.”

    Niwa marine ecologist Leigh Torres said albatrosses were showing signs of being “hungrier” this year.

    Around the Snares Islands, 200 kilometres south of the South Island, birds were searching harder for prey and flying closer to fishing boats.

    Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony manager Jason Gaskill said no chicks there had starved, but warmer sea surface temperatures led to poorer breeding conditions for fish and less food for penguins, which would affect this year’s season.

    – The Dominion Post
    © 2010 Fairfax New Zealand Limited

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