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Mexican authorities are investigating the mysterious deaths of eight whales found washed ashore along the Sea of Cortez last month, an unusually large number that suggests someone or something is killing them off.
The whales come from several plankton-eating species and apparently died at sea in November and December, biologists said. But they do not show any signs of having been caught in long-line fishing nets, which sometimes suffocate the mammoth animals. Nor have biologists found any signs of a toxic spill or outbreak of disease that would account for their deaths.
"Right now it's a mystery," said Luis Fueyo, an assistant federal prosecutor for environmental crimes, who is overseeing the investigation. "We have a puzzle." ...The investigators also looked for signs of disease or poisons, both natural and synthetic. It was slow going. All of the bodies were badly decomposed. Only the baby gray whale provided enough tissue to test for diseases or poisons. ...On Friday, environmental officials announced that those tests had found no evidence of a toxic algae bloom, other poisons or infections. Nor have the investigations turned up signs of mistreatment by fishermen.
What's Killing All Those Whales?
Prion diseases are unique in that they can be inherited, they can occur sporadically, and they can be infectious. The infectious agent in the prion disease is composed mainly or entirely of an abnormal conformation of a host-encoded glycoprotein called the prion protein.
The transmission of this disease (scrapie) was demonstrated first in 1943 when a population of Scottish sheep was accidentally inoculated against a common virus using a formalin extract of lymphoid tissue from an animal with scrapie (Gordon, 1946). Accidental transmission of prions is a recurrent event in the history of these agents and is related to their unusual biophysical properties.
Prion Related Diseases
This 1986 paper describes how "proteinaceous capsids" (prions) use viruses as vehicles of transmission...
* "Viral influences on aflatoxin formation by Aspergillus flavus." Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 24:248-252. Schmidt FR, Lemke PA, Esser K (1986)
"Epidemiological observations indicate that a microbial vector is responsible for the transmission of natural prion disease in sheep and goats … ...It is proposed that many microbial proteins may be capable of replicating themselves in mammalian cells eliciting and sustaining thereby degenerative and/or autoimmune reactions subsequent to infections with microorganisms."
* Is the pathogen of prion disease a microbial protein? Med Hypotheses. 1999 Aug;53(2):91-102. Fuzi M. Budapest Institute of National Public Health and Medical Officer Service, Hungary. PMID: 10532698
* Dangerous liaisons between a microbe and the prion protein. J Exp Med. 2003 Jul 7;198(1):1-4. Aguzzi A, Hardt WD. PMID: 12847133
Animal prion infections, such as scrapie (sheep) and "mad cow disease" (cattle), have shown a pattern of horizontal transmission in farm conditions and several ectoparasites have been shown to harbor prion rods in laboratory experiments. Fly larvae and mites were exposed to brain-infected material and were readily able to transmit scrapie to hamsters. New lines of evidence have confirmed that adult flies are also able to express prion proteins. ...Several cell types found on the human skin, including keratinocytes, fibroblasts and lymphocytes, are susceptible to the abnormal infective isoform of the prion protein, which transforms the skin to produce a potential target for prion infection.
Could ectoparasites act as vectors for prion diseases? Int J Dermatol. 2003 Jun;42(6):425-9. Lupi O. Center for Vaccine Development, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX, USA. PMID: 12786866
Originally posted by arc_mar
guess there ends my fish eating orgy which i thought was safe
Originally posted by MrPringles
Bird flu hasn't even reached mexico yet.
Originally posted by zenlover28
The current whale population is really high right now,
Originally posted by byhiniur
Bird flu killed the dinosaurs... we had better be carful.
Well thats my 2 cents.
Originally posted by carlwfbird
Many autopsies of dead whales show that the cause of death is associated with a problems with the whales' natural SONAR.
...some marine mammals can detect sounds natural sounds from other populations of marine mammals nearly across the length of the ocean. Today, with Naval sonar being developed at even more sensitive levels, they are sending more noise into the ocean than ever before.
Some of these sounds can reach dB levels of well over 200dB. Essentially this causes a deafness to the whale who can no longer navigate properly and they beach themselves. At lound enough levels it can also cause brain damage to the auditory section of the brain, cause internal bleeding and eventually death.
Also a source of oceanographic noise pollution is oil drilling from water-bounde rigs. Especially the rigs that drill horizontally into the ocean shelf.