Oregon: First-Ever Statewide Fishing Ban Coincides With, But Does Not Cite, Widespread Unexplained Fish Die-Offs (In Some Areas Mortality Near 100%)

A Screenshot from John C. Ratliff's evidentiary video, "Salmon In Trouble,"June, 2015

Multi-species: even sturgeon affected.   Rotting gills.  In some places, rate of infection 100%.  Main stream media in full damage control, more on that in a bit.

Bodies of salmon lying dead on the river bottom, possibly seen by one diligently observant diver, Mr. John C. Ratliff, whose video, and excerpts of his accompanying written testimony, I present below.  Read it carefully; it provides, in my opinion, an important set of details against which to hold reports authored by the probably morally bankrupt Associated Press and completely morally bereft Fox 'news' sources. (I would apologize, but on  second thought, I won't).
Published on Jul 13, 2015
On Tuesday of this week, I dove High Rocks again. ...my primary objective for this dive was to witness and video the spawning of red-sided shiners. Additionally, I had heard that there were some salmon being killed by higher temperatures in the Clackamas River. So I wanted also to investigate this possibility. This dive was two days later, on Thursday, July 2, 2015.
As I was entering the water, I noted two dead salmon floating near my entrance point. Several more were in the back-current in the river.... Hanging from a root was the remains of a female salmon, with its guts open so that I could see the egg mass protruding into the water. This salmon had not had a chance to spawn... Then I noted a dead salmon in the distance, and started swimming toward it....

Another screenshot of John C. Ratliff's evidentiary video, "Salmon In Trouble,"June, 2015
As I got close, I saw it was not alone in death.
There were about seven more behind it.

So I videoed them, then put the helmet down behind the far one and videoed myself picking it up, so as to show the actual size of these huge Chinook.

I then swam further downstream, and noted several more dead salmon. Turning around, I swam back over these dead fish, to get back to where the red-sided shiners were gathered for spawning, hoping to see spawning activity.
As I was observing these, another salmon came by in the current, but it was still alive and making feeble swimming motions while belly-up. It bumped into the first salmon I had seen, and stayed there, expiring. I swam over the dead fish again, then back again and noted the dying salmon still trying to swim downstream, but still belly-up. It was heartbreaking to see this. I continued downstream, noted several other salmon dead, and finally exited at my exit point below the bridge. To me this was a really heart-wrenching dive.

I talked to ODFW's Public Information Officer, Rick Suart, and he talked with the biologists while we were on the phone. It was the consensus of the biologists that these were Willametter River salmon, trying to make it up the Willamette to the McKenzie River, but diverting into the Clackamas River to escape the hot temperatures of the Willamette River. But the Clackamas River was also dropping in water level, and heating up in the hot weather.
When I told Mr. Suart that the lifeguards had measured the river temperature at High Rocks at 72 degrees F, they said that the salmon start having problems at about 60 degrees, and at that high temperature (72 degrees) they not only cannot get enough oxygen from the water, but become very susceptible to infections.
My Suunto Cobra dive computer says that at depth, the water temperature was 70 degrees F. I noted the splotches in the sides of the fish I had observed too. I'm currently editing the video, and will give it to the ODFW soon. I may also send the video to a local news station.
 Format mine, with apologies.  For his description in full, please go to his Youtube post, here.

I hope he does.  This is his video, "Salmon in Trouble:"

An extremely rare epidemiological occurrence, some areas experienced a 100% rate of 'infection.'  Something like this ring a bell?  It should, because rate of death as a consequence of the Starfish Wasting Disease reached 100% of population in many instances; see here, here, and here.

And in the case of the event prompting the official ban on Angling in Oregon, 'infection' might not be the most appropriate term, since the pathogen in question does not seem to have been determined, only surmised.  Correct me if I am wrong.

This is also the case in Alaska, where recently 14 whale carcasses surfaced, an event, rather widely documented, that apparently also affected other marine creatures, including sturgeon.  
Kate Wynne, a Marine Mammal Specialist for the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, told Channel 2 News that since the June 18 announcement of the nine dead fin whales, four humpback whales and another fin whale have been found dead. According to Wynne, the five whales appeared to have been dead for the same amount of time as the previously discovered whales… After the first two whales were discovered… it triggered a response from numerous agencies… “The good news is that this has gotten a lot of us to talk to each other, and be alert,” Wynne said… Wynne thinks the whales may have consumed something toxic… Tests on tissue from one of the whales have proven negative for domoic acid, a biotoxin, and results on two other tests, for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) and Cesium-137 radioactivity, are still pending.
Read more (KTUU) (more sources at Enenews)
The testing undertaken includes testing for one form of radiation that may signal impact from the nuclear disaster in Japan. Unfortunately, I have confirmed by email that more comprehensive testing will not be undertaken absent additional funding. (For more information, see note below.)

Similar mortality events have happened recently, as all Gentle Readers of this blog no doubt are aware.  Before the current Oregon die-off, before the recent deaths in Alaska and San Diego, before a more widespread annihilation was to wipe out sea stars up and down the coast, here is relevant data from yet another mortality event: Two species were "functionally extirpated" across 100km of coastline in the Pacific Northwest, from Mendicino to just above San Francisco -- in late August, early September, 2011.  

This geographically bounded sea star mortality event was observed, and studied, precisely because, as the authors state in their introduction, in events such as this often there is regrettably little baseline work done.  One gets the feeling that the researchers knew, back in 2011, what was afoot...

Here is an excerpt, that gets to the point of why 100% mortality is such a very, very bad sign.
 The geographic scale, rapidity, and taxonomic scope of this mass mortality event are notable, as is the high mortality rate for purple urchins and six-armed sea stars. Although localized mass mortalities are not uncommon... no previously documented mortality event has been so severe over such a large region... Even in comparison with high-severity events, an apparently uniform lack of survivors... following an event is uncommon.... The event documented here was also unusual in its sudden onset and brief time-course, a pattern that is rare in marine systems except in cases of discrete physical disturbance like hurricanes. Large-scale marine mortalities typically take several months or years to progress....
As is the case for many documented mass-mortality events, we cannot unambiguously ascribe the current die-off to a particular cause or set of causes. However, the combination of synchronous and spatially consistent mortality in multiple species, juxtaposed with zero detectable effect in adjacent regions, is consistent with a single, geographically constrained agent. Conceivable causes of the patterns we observed include five, potentially nonexclusive, processes: (1) physical disturbance, (2) mass migration of individuals to areas outside the sampling domain, (3) dysoxia or anoxia, (4) a disease outbreak, and (5) toxicity resulting from a harmful algal bloom (HAB). Of these, toxicity from a HAB is most likely....

"Patterns of Mass Mortality among Rocky Shore Invertebrates across 100 km of Northeastern Pacific Coastline"  
Jurgens LJ, Rogers-Bennett L, Raimondi PT, Schiebelhut LM, Dawson MN, Grosberg RK, et al. (2015)   
PLoS ONE 10(6): e0126280. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126280  
Read more
They hypothesize a Harmful Algae Bloom, although I saw no direct proof had been obtained of this.  Certainly a HAB was observed as a primary factor in deaths beginning this year, notably the sea lions in Santa Barbara -- but investigations into the sudden whale and sturgeon deaths in Alaska included testing for the toxins produced by HABs, and the tests were negative.  In the case of the latter mortality event, what was especially chilling was that the creatures, large animals, all appeared to die at the same time.

A lack of conclusive data notwithstanding, the media informs us that it is warm weather, that we are 'giving the fish a break' -- and in many cases, says nothing about the mortality even.  I sure hope it isn't harmful to humans, for the sake of the above diver and for everyone upon whom the media foisted a certainty which, to my mind, smells as if it were in direct inverse proportion to their actual comprehension of the causes of the event.

Why would warm waters leave a salmon female with her guts spilling out?  Why wouldn't the fish know enough to seek the comparatively cooler water at the bottom?  Why hasn't the toxin been isolated, if it is a likely culprit?

Mostly it is blamed on global warming, but in my opinion there are problems with this interpretation, pieces of the puzzle that do not fit.  Obviously the main stream media agrees, since they appear to have gone quickly into full-scale damage control.  One mini story, ostensibly about the Oregon fish deaths, attributes them to warm temperature water in the title of the piece, and  -- ecce signum --look how deftly (not) the attention is distracted and the spirit uplifted, by the end:

Here's the video from the story.  You wouldn't recognize it as stemming from the same event by which Mr. Ratliff was heartbroken, nor would you think the ban related to a pathogen that might pose harm to human health.  At least I didn't.

Common sense -- not always the wisest, I admit -- would indicate that all this death since 2011 along the coast of the Pacific Northwest shares a root cause.  

I would sure love to be wrong.

NOTE: Funding appears to be the only obstacle to a more comprehensive testing of the Alaska tissue specimens, however.  If those specimens seem likely to shed light on this matter, funding must be generated, in my opinion.  Please leave a comment or email me if you want to be of help. I will be posting updates.

Be seeing you.