Published Date: 2005-06-26 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH> Red tide - USA (NH,MA) (04)
Archive Number: 20050626.1800
RED TIDE - USA (NEW HAMPSHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS) (04)
A ProMED-mail post
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International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sat 25 Jun 2005
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: Cape Codder on Townonline.com, MA, USA, 24 Jun 2005 [edited]
Red tide could be killing terns
Shellfishermen are not the only ones hoping the red tide abates soon. At
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham, environmental officials have
one eye on the water and one on the tern eggs, which should start hatching
toward the end of July 2005. If the tide has not abated by the time the
eggs hatch, the baby terns could be in great danger from ingesting the
algae that cause red tide.
The tide has taken its toll on the adult tern population in the refuge, as
it is implicated in the deaths of some 40 birds. Michael Brady, refuge
manager, said the symptoms exhibited by the birds -- including twisting of
the head, lethargy and inability to fly straight -- are consistent with a
1974 study published after the red tide outbreak 2 years earlier. "We got a
lot (of dead birds) the 1st few days, and then it really wound down," he
said. "Maybe their immune system was lower, or maybe they ingested a lot of
red tide. Knock on wood, the terns remaining in the colony are doing well."
With the number of terns in the colony expected to be similar to the 10 500
last year , Brady said the refuge could stand to lose 30 to 40 birds;
1000, however, would be a problem. The strange thing about the red tide
deaths, Brady said, is that 90 per cent of the terns' diet is sand lance.
Since terns eat the entire fish -- unlike humans, who eat only the flesh of
the fish -- he said the bacteria is probably in the gills.
By contrast, the American oyster catcher almost exclusively eats entire
clams, but no dead oyster catchers have been found. "We're not
understanding this whole situation, either," Brady said.
Don Anderson, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
whose research interests include red tide, said the tern deaths have not
yet been confirmed to be caused by red tide. He also discounts the rumor
that dogs have been dying after ingesting the algae, saying he has never
encountered such a thing. "It doesn't make any sense to me, to be honest,"
Anderson said. "I'd have to know where these animals were and what they had
eaten from the ocean."
Dr John Kelley of Eastham Veterinary Hospital said that the concentration
of red tide in the water is not large enough to be harmful and that clams
should only be a threat if a dog ate a bowl of them. Although his office
has treated a lot of dogs suffering from vomiting and diarrhea in recent
weeks, Kelley said those are not symptoms of red tide. "What you see with
red tide, it's more respiratory and paralysis," he said, adding that Cape
Cod, particularly Orleans, is hit by red tide almost every year, and there
are no problems with dogs. Should the talk of dog deaths persist, Anderson
said it could be harmful, because people would not take their dogs to the
beach. "I wouldn't hesitate to walk my dog on the beach," he said. "I
wouldn't hesitate to let her swim in the water."
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