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East Coast Fish Die-Offs Linked to Extreme Cold Snap

Monday, January 10, 2011 22:26
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(Before It's News)

The death of 2 million fish in Chesapeake Bay isn’t a sign of apocalypse, historical or otherwise, but it does offer a chance to consider what could happen if colder winters become routine in the eastern United States.

Some climatologists have proposed that, paradoxically, a warming Arctic will actually push cold air south, producing patterns like the one believed to have caused the Chesapeake fish kill.

If cold snaps grow deeper even as year-round temperatures rise, Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystems would adapt — but perhaps not, as is usually forecast, through the northward migration of warm-loving species, but by favoring species that can handle extremes.

“The long-term makeup of ecological communities is more driven by extremes than average conditions,” said Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Nova Scotia’s Dalhousie University. “Whatever can survive the extreme makes it in the long-term.”

The Chesapeake Bay fish kill was the latest in a series of animal die-offs to gain attention — and more than a little hysteria — after the dramatic New Year’s Eve death of 5,000 red-winged blackbirds over Beebe, Arkansas, and the subsequent report of 100,000 drum fish dying in the Arkansas River.

Those die-offs were not exceptional in the history of single-event die-offs, and paled in comparison to what’s ongoing among North American bats and bees, and in amphibians around the world. But the timing, proximity and general eeriness of the deaths captured the public’s imagination, and suddenly people started paying attention to die-offs that would normally have gone unremarked.

Bird deaths were reported in Sweden, Kentucky and Louisiana, and dead crabs off the English coast. The “aflockalypse” went viral, and the internet filled with (mostly) tongue-in-cheek chatter about the End Times. When the Maryland Department of the Environment released a statement Jan. 5 about 2 million spot and croakers dying in Chesapeake Bay, the public was primed to perceive catastrophe.

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  • Anonymous

    Damn the bad luck!! been swimming through there for hundreds of years, now it gets cold. The scientists these are such homebodies, and lab rats, that they don’t have a lot of experience to draw on when they want to lie and deceive. We illiterates found out that if you throw your new goldfish into cold tap water when you get home from the street fair, it will die, so the scientists got wind of that and said, “goldfish, smoldfish, who cares, these dumb Americans will never know , thats our story!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Back in the “day” , we had smart fish, and actually more of them, but that’s another story. When we went fishing, and there were no “bites” it was said that the water was cold, and the fish went deep to get into “warmer waters” Oh by the way, the top of the lakes had 3 feet of ice on top . Is that cold??, Is that colder than the Chesapeake Bay,? I once thought that Ice was Ice, but maybe some water is colder than ice. gtc

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