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A woman carries fish in Nauta, Peru. Oceana / Shutterstock / Christian Vinces

By Emily Petsko

For many, the end of October evokes images of falling leaves or Halloween's ghosts and ghouls. But those of us focused on oceans also know October as National Seafood Month.

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Dragging for catch has led to overfishing in the Gulf of Maine, where fishing with rod and reel is rare. Carl D. Walsh / Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Scientists continue to uncover more ways climate change poses a threat to our health, such as the spread of tropical diseases northward and the loss of crucial nutrients in crops. Now, researchers at Harvard have added another risk to that list: increased neurotoxins in seafood.

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Tuna auctions are a tourist spectacle in Tokyo. Outside the city's most famous fish market, long queues of visitors hoping for a glimpse of the action begin to form at 5 a.m. The attraction is so popular that last October the Tsukiji fish market, in operation since 1935, moved out from the city center to the district of Toyosu to cope with the crowds.

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A diet high in fish and vegetables can help keep your gut healthy. Linda Raymond / E+ / Getty Images

By Heather Cruickshank

Trillions of bacteria and other microbes live in the human digestive system. Together, they form a community that's known as the gut microbiota.

Many bacteria in the microbiota play important roles in human health, helping to metabolize food, strengthen intestinal integrity and protect against disease.

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Char and sockeye salmon moving upstream. Salmon are high in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Jonny Armstrong / USGS

By Bret Stetka

Glaciers continue to melt. Sea levels are on the rise. And now scientists believe the changing climate may put our brains at risk. A new analysis predicts that by 2100, increasing water temperatures brought on by a warming planet could result in 96 percent of the world's population not having access to an omega-3 fatty acid crucial to brain health and function.

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Cover all open wounds with waterproof bandages before swimming in the ocean. lzf / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Brian Labus

Like humans, many bacteria like to spend time at the beach. The so-called flesh-eating bacteria, Vibrio vulnificus, don't just like the beach; they need it, and rely on sea salt for survival. And as with human beachgoers, the warmer the water, the more of them there are.

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Scanning electron micrograph image depicts a grouping of Vibrio vulnificus bacteria. BSIP / UIG via Getty Images

Within the last month, at least two people in the U.S. have contracted a flesh-eating infection from an ocean-dwelling bacterium — an occurrence that experts warn could become more frequent as the world's oceans warm.

Vibrio vulnificus is an "opportunistic pathogen" responsible for a majority of seafood-related deaths in the U.S., according to an article written by the American Society for Microbiology. The bacteria thrive in warm salty and brackish waters and enter humans either through breaks in the skin or after being consumed with raw seafood. Up to one-third of people with vibrio vulnificus will die from the infection, which can cause a flesh-eating and commonly fatal bacteria known as necrotizing fasciitis.

A woman in Florida died last month after contracting the bacteria when she fell into the water and cut her leg — a wound that measured just three-quarters of an inch, NBC reported. That afternoon she experienced overwhelming pain in her leg. Within days her limb was black and she was put on hospice care, eventually succumbing. She was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and subsequently suffered from two strokes, kidney failure and sepsis.

At another Florida beach, a 12-year-old girl similarly complained of pain that started in her leg and traveled through her entire body, wrote her mother in a Facebook post. After an initial visit at a local hospital, doctors told the woman to send her daughter to a hospital in Indianapolis specializing in children's health where she was admitted to the ICU for an infection behind her knee and septic shock, reports Today. Though her recovery is expected to be a long one, a rush to emergency surgery saved the girl's life and prevented the amputation of her leg.

"We are not completely better, but we are on the road to recovery. We will have numerous doctors' visits, physical therapy and blood work to continue, but all that matters is my girl is ALIVE. I wanted to share her story in hopes that it may help save someone else. It is CRITICAL to be aware of the signs and symptoms and getting treatment quickly," she wrote.

Cases in 2019 are adding up at a rate much higher than in previous years: A young boy contracted vibrio in Maryland last week after swimming at a local beach, reports CBS. The Miami Herald reports the story of a man in Florida who contracted the flesh-eating bacteria and whose quick action similarly saved him from losing muscle tissue in the arm. Surprisingly, the man insisted that he became infected without being in the water.

Necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by a number of different bacteria, but is commonly caused by V. vulnificus when people wade into contaminated water with a cut or wound or eat raw shellfish infected by the bacteria. Endemic along the Southeast U.S. coast, the bacteria doesn't typically extend north of Virginia's Chesapeake Bay. However, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that as temperatures rise and make previously cooler regions more hospitable to the warm-water bacteria, infections will also increase in non-endemic areas

The researchers reported five occurrences of necrotizing fasciitis caused by V. Vulnificus in New Jersey during the summers of 2017 and 2018. By contrast, just one case had been diagnosed in the previous eight years, researchers told Medscape Medical News.

The quick-spreading infection starts with a red or swollen area of skin, severe pain and a fever, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Later symptoms can include ulcers, blisters, or black spots on the skin, changes in its coloration, pus or oozing from the infected area, as well as dizziness, fatigue, and diarrhea or nausea. Treatment requires hospital and intravenous antibiotics and surgery to reduce the rapid spread by removing the dead tissue to avoid sepsis, shock, and organ failure, as well as life-long complications for loss of limbs and severe scarring.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that three people were infected by a flesh eating bacteria. Two were infected, while a third was infected with vibrio vulnificus. The headline and story have been updated for clarity.

Implementing new policies could improve transparency and sustainability in North Pacific fisheries. The Pew Charitable Trusts

By Grantly Galland

The North Pacific Fisheries Commission (NPFC) works to ensure that high-seas fishing for Pacific chub mackerel, Pacific saury, two squid species and other stocks across the north Pacific Ocean is legal, transparent and sustainable. The Pew Charitable Trusts shares those goals and will for the first time attend the commission's annual meeting, July 11-18 in Tokyo, as a formal observer.

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Maskot / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to wonder which foods are healthiest.

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Block Island Kelp / Catherine Puckett

By Marlene Cimons

Catherine Puckett needs to be close to the ocean. "I just can't be away from it," she said. "It means everything to me." She has to see it and smell it and hear the bells that ring from buoys offshore when a heavy sea rolls in from the east. When she is waist-deep in water, ankle-deep in mud, salt marsh on one side and water on the other, there's only one way she can describe it. "It's magical," she said. She even wades in during the coldest days of winter, often breaking through ice to get there. "I think to myself: 'why doesn't everybody do this?'" she said.

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Brown bear fishing for salmon in creek at Pavlof Harbor in Tongass National Forest, Alaska. Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket / Getty Images

The Trump administration has moved one step closer to opening Earth's largest intact temperate rainforest to logging.

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Guillermo Murcia / Moment / Getty Images

By Ansley Hill

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that your body needs for many vital processes, including building and maintaining strong bones.

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Luxy Images / Luxy / Getty Images

By Alina Petre, MS, RD

Grains are a staple in most traditional diets, but a growing number of people are cutting out this food group.

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Chile's small-scale fishers are squeezed, but a renewed interest in native foods offers hope. Claudio Almarza / Oceana

By Allison Guy

When Carlos Castro was young, he didn't plan on following his dad and granddad into fishing. Like a lot of teenagers in the 1970s, Castro dreamt of kung fu. Bruce Lee was more his style than the family business.

Castro swam laps to shape up back then, dodging boats in the bracingly cold bay of Valparaiso, a port city in central Chile. Forty years later, he still plies those waters, driving one of the boats he used to swim past. Castro, a youthful 56 in white trainers and Nike gear, became a fisherman after all.

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Ocean Hugger Foods' Ahimi is the first plant-based alternative to raw tuna, used in restaurants and the food service sector. Ocean Hugger Foods

By Uzo

You may already know how delicious vegan seafood is. Word on the street is that fishless fare is making a huge appearance in stores nationwide.

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Pexels

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

A well-balanced and nutritious diet has many benefits.

On the other hand, a diet lacking in nutrients may cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms.

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Doucefleur / iStock / Getty Images

By Atli Arnarson, PhD

Vegan and vegetarian diets are both very healthy ways of eating.

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haha21 / E+ / Getty Images

Anyone planning to serve shrimp with their champagne this New Year's Eve should check their receipts.

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Vegan rice and garbanzo beans meals. Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

One common concern about vegan diets is whether they provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Many claim that a whole-food, plant-based diet easily meets all the daily nutrient requirements.

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