Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Thousands of Dead Sardines Found Floating in Chile's Queule River

Animals
Thousands of Dead Sardines Found Floating in Chile's Queule River

By Orietta Estrada

A massive fish kill in the Queule River Estuary in Chile last week has left fishermen overworked, residents in fear and thousands of tons of dead sardines floating along local shorelines. According to a statement on the website Chile's National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service (SERNAPESCA), the entire area has been declared a human health hazard and the dead sardines have been banned for consumption.

Thousands of dead sardines have been found floating in Chile's Queule River. Photo credit: SERNAPESCA

Seven major areas in the estuary have been affected by the sardine die-offs with Playa de Los Piños being hit the hardest. The news comes at a bad time for a region already struggling with stocking its national fisheries. Sardines, along with anchovy, were recently closed to fishing in the country due to low catch numbers. SERNAPESCA estimates that there were several hundred tons of dead fish in the water.

Fisherman Hernan Machua, told El País that 1,000 tons of dead sardines have been scooped out of the water so far and several thousand tons remain. He also added that more help from the government in the clean up efforts was desperately needed.

Last week, SERNAPESCA tweeted images of the massive sardine die-offs. The images were captured during an aerial evaluation of the extent of the fish kill. The evaluation team included the mayor of Queule:

Over the weekend SERNAPESCA tweeted this image of fishermen beginning the removal of the dead fish:

Images publicly posted to Facebook from a Queule resident presented an alternative perspective to the clean up efforts:

At this time it is unclear why the fish kill happened, nor is it clear where it originated. It is also unknown if other fish species have been affected. What is clear is that fluctuations in sardine populations are common and occur for several reasons. One reason is hypoxia. Hypoxia is the result of increased primary production in waterways which leads to a decrease in the availability of oxygen, subsequently suffocating marine organisms. Unfortunately, this is not Chile's first time dealing with massive fish kills related to hypoxia.

The country's salmon industry was left reeling last month after harmful algal blooms (HABs) caused massive die-offs. Eutrophication, natural or synthetic fertilization of algae, causes HABs which result in hypoxia. The salmon die-offs slashed 15 percent of Chile's total salmon production totaling around $800 million in economic losses.

Although sardines are not listed as a threatened species, in a food web, their recent-historic population declines have far reaching implications for animals at higher trophic levels—animals like sea lions. This past March, in the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that low stocks of sardines and anchovy were to blame for starving sea lion pups. Female sea lions were unable to receive proper nutrition due to the scarcity of their staple food source—sardines and anchovy. Therefore, undernourished females were unable to properly feed their own pups.

The struggle to maintain adequate fish stocks in the Chile was echoed this week by the U.S. when the U.S. Pacific Fishery Management Council closed sardine fishing in the Pacific Northwest. This is the second consecutive year that the council has taken this action. Both countries face tremendous obstacles rebuilding their national fisheries. Among those obstacles are overfishing, water pollution and climate change.

Residents in Queule are frustrated with authorities for the slow pace of the clean up, according to Reuters. Health concerns have also been raised as the decomposing fish continue to crowd the shoreline. Euronews reported that a similar incident occurred in the neighboring region of Los Rios last month, but that report is not yet confirmed.

Clean up efforts are ongoing and the environmental impacts are unknown.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Sardine Fishing Banned in Pacific Northwest as Stocks Hit Historic Low

Overfishing to Blame for Sardine Shortage and Starving Sea Lions

Unlocking the Potential of Sustainable Fishing

Removal of 4 Dams to Reopen 420 Miles of Historic Salmon Habitat on Klamath River

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This image of the Santa Monica Mountains in California shows how a north-facing slope (left) can be covered in white-blooming hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), while the south-facing slope (right) is much less sparsely covered in a completely different plant. Noah Elhardt / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.5

By Mark Mancini

If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.

Read More Show Less
Flames from the Lake Fire burn on a hillside near a fire truck and other vehicles on Aug. 12, 2020 in Lake Hughes, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.

Read More Show Less
Although heat waves rarely get the attention that hurricanes do, they kill far more people per year in the U.S. and abroad. greenaperture / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

Read More Show Less

A film by Felix Nuhr.

Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media.

Read More Show Less
Scientists have found a way to use bricks as batteries, meaning that buildings may one day be used to store and generate power. Public Domain Pictures

One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."

Aerial view of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama, where a new soil study was held, on Sept. 11, 2019. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP via Getty Images

One of the concerns about a warming planet is the feedback loop that will emerge. That is, as the planet warms, it will melt permafrost, which will release trapped carbon and lead to more warming and more melting. Now, a new study has shown that the feedback loop won't only happen in the nether regions of the north and south, but in the tropics as well, according to a new paper in Nature.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods speaks during a press conference after a shooting at Forest High School on April 20, 2018 in Ocala, Florida. Gerardo Mora / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A sheriff in Florida is under fire for deciding Tuesday to ban his deputies from wearing face masks while on the job—ignoring the advice of public health experts about the safety measures that everyone should take during the coronavirus pandemic as well as the rising Covid-19 death toll in his county and state.

Read More Show Less