[Coral-List] FW: [ReefCheck-list] Reef Fishes dying in huge numbers

William W Steiner bill_steiner at usgs.gov
Mon Dec 22 13:44:58 EST 2003

I am assuming that this has not been observed before at least in the
lifetimes of those seeing it so it is not a cyclical type of event.
Perhaps it is a toxin that is present during certain seasons but slight
temperature changes suggested below make the fish more vulnerable?  May I
suggest a line of inquiry?

A dozen or so fish (for statistical relevancy) of each species needs to be
preserved on ice as soon as collected.  They should be examined for
bacteria loads, toxins, other diseases, etc.  A dozen live fish of the same
species should likewise be collected, sacrificed and examined.  This
side-by-side comparison might give evidence to the cause.  It would also be
nice to take some physiological/biochemical meaurements if possible of dead
versus dying versus healthy fish, same species.  Field studies indicating
the rate of spread, the direction of spread (following a current?) and fish
behavior in the sea should also be monitored.  Dr. Thierry Work of the USGS
Biological Resources Discipline located in Hawaii has experience in this
area but someone would need to pay his costs.  Dr. Jim Parrish of USGS is a
fisheries biologist and might also provide some insight especially on the
ecological end.  His costs would also have to be covered.  I have included
their email addresses in the event Kiribati officials would like to follow

Good luck and Aloha

William W. M. Steiner, Ph.D.
Director, USGS BRD
Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
3190 Maile Way, St. John Hall 408
Honolulu, HI 96822

PH   808-956-5691    Fax  808-956-5687
Cell 808-294-0750

                      "Gregor Hodgson"                                                                                                            
                      <gregorh at ucla.edu>                 To:       <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>                                               
                      Sent by:                           cc:                                                                                      
                      coral-list-bounces at coral.ao        Subject:  [Coral-List] FW: [ReefCheck-list] Reef Fishes dying in huge numbers            
                      12/21/2003 06:29 PM                                                                                                         

-----Original Message-----
From: Taratau Kirata [mailto:TaratauK at mnrd.gov.ki]
Sent: Sunday, December 21, 2003 5:48 PM
To: 'ReefCheck-list at yahoogroups.com'
Subject: [ReefCheck-list] Reef Fishes dying in huge numbers

I would just like to report and if possible would like
thoughts/comments on the incidence.

Fish species of Naso annulatus, Alectis ciliaris, Alectis inducus,
Carangoides orthogrammus, Lutjanus gibbus, Melichthys niger, Melichthys
vidua are reported of in its third week of dying on four islands in our
Kiribati group.  On some islands it is still going on while others stop,
two more new islands are also experiencing this.

The islands are all coral atolls where they have small or
no lagoon.  The fishes are reported dying on the outer reef near to the
ocean.  The fishes can be seen being washed ashore onto the beach at
specific locations on these islands in large numbers (250-400).  The
may be greater for some species and slightly fewer for other species.

The local people and fisheries are suspecting it is something related to
increase in
water temperature around the area.  However, this arises another doubt
we believe this fishes are able to tolerate increase in water temperature
(slight).  Since the area which this thing is happening is in the open
sea, it may be that the area which increases in water temperature is large
and that the temperature rise is more than slight, or what do you think.

Our local people are very concerned owning to the fact that we depend
heavily on these resources for our livelihood.

Thank you.  Should you like further information on this I am always
available in supplying it.

Best regards,

Taratau Kirata
Fisheries Officer
Ministry of Fisheries
Kiribati Government

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