[Coral-List] Mass Fish Deaths in Nauru & Kiribati

Mike Ross mikeross at mozcom.com
Mon Dec 8 09:59:03 EST 2003

Hi Reuban,

Interesting experience that I may have shared, say in April or so of 1985
on the island of Mamamoc, Cuyo Islands, Sulu Sea, Philippines.....after
say a month period of dead calms and typically high temps for that time of
the year, the shoreline and lagoon was littered by countless dead reef
fish, including moray eels....literally kilometers of shoreline lined with
dead reef fish.....

The reef fish, etc. dying off seemed to last for weeks, until some winds
arrived.....or no more fish, etc were left to die off....offshore, the
commercial sardine / pelagic fishing boats in the area usuaully during
that calm period of the year were continuously active and fishing close to
shore, suggesting that those fish stocks were less than affected.....

I suspected at that time low oxygen level (due to very calm sea
conditions) combined with usual seasonal higher sea temps (no coral
bleeching in the area at that time).....

Interesting enough, I don't recall the local islanders being unusually
surprised or talkative about the occurance.....they didn't even really
bother to collect or utilize the dead fish, etc for any purpose so I
suspected that it was fairly common during such unusually calm and hot
periods....just a guess from a while back....be interesting to learn more,
particularly from the locals?


Mike Ross
Coastal Dynamics Foundation / Reef Check Cebu, Philippines

> Dear Coral listers,
> We have had mass fish deaths in Kiribati (around Tarawa) at around October
> and
> then another mass fish death with a much higher proportion in Nauru in
> Late October
> up to now (December -  sporadically). The fish death occur from the the
> surface
> down to depths of 180 feet.  The fish were observed to be initially weak
> and then
> slowly die.  One can swim in the coral reef areas and the fish just
> literally stick to you
> and come right into your masks as they were too weak to swim away.  They
> would
> literally be just biting you.  With the fish around you, it is like
> swimming around
> leaves.  Right now it has kind of reduced but we have observed that the
> living fish
> swimming around have some sores around the eyes.  We assume that this may
> have been due to parasites from the mass fish death getting on to the
> living fish.
> There has also been evidence of coral bleaching.
> There was a lot of Tuna schools around the area and they were not
> suffering any bit,
> but preety much healthy.  There was no Tuna death.  There was quite a lot
> of silver
> tail trevally which kind of has a population explosion with a lot of young
> around and
> increasing in size with every passing weeks.
> I rememeber that some months ago, one of our subscribers wrote in about
> mass
> parrot fish deaths.  We have been doing a lot of soul searching about this
> phenomenon and the possibilities we come up included increased temperature
> levels, red tides etc.  Does anyone experience this anywhere in other
> parts of the
> world and what has been the conclusion you come up with.  We have
> photographs
> available and if anyone is interested to see them please contact me.
> With many thanks
> Reuben Sulu
> ___________________________________
> Reuben John Sulu
> Institute of Marine Resources
> The University of the South Pacific
> PO Box 1168, Suva. Fiji Islands
> Phone (679) 3212997	Fax (679) 3309494
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