Weird happenings in Alaska

There have been some strange things going on in the waters of Alaska lately. Not the UFO kind, but still weird. Scientists have conducted studies alongside researchers from the center for national oceanic and atmospheric administration’s fisheries. This resulted in findings for toxic algae are blooming in the waters that produce neurotoxins.

Neurotoxins are substances that are poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue. Neurotoxins are an extensive class of exogenous chemical neurological insults that can adversely affect function in both developing and mature nervous tissue.” – Wikipedia

Basically these are toxins that destroy the brain, at varying rates of speed depending on the amount consumed. Some of these toxins affect a certain age range more than others, but in this case it is unclear as to whether it matters at all. What does matter is that algae that produces these types of neurotoxins have proven deadly in high doses. The very same algae has been found in 13 different marine mammal species that are currently in Alaskan waters. They are spanning as far as the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.

Warming Trends

There seems to be a connection to the spread of this type of algae and the warming of the waters in the ocean. The very same warming we all know as global warming that is affecting both marine animals and people globally. Yes the long labeled a fable Global Warming. Who would have guessed that a fairy tale could actually cause the ice-caps to melt more than the usual, and the ocean waters to warm producing a possibly deadly algae.  A few of the species that are affected by this are: Whales, Walruses, Sea Lions, Seals, Porpoises, and Sea Otters. Wildlife Algal-Toxin Research & Response Network for the west coast (or WARRN-WEST), collected samples from over 900 marine mammals that had been either found or harvested in Alaska from 2004 to 2013. The testing found toxgins in several of the 13 species that were tested, and those that had the toxins were specimens taken from all regions in Alaska. As it is difficult to determine the cause of death in the stranded animals, it is not clear as to whether or not the toxins or algae are directly responsible for the animal’s deaths, but it certainly didn’t help anything live longer. Given how the food chain works, it may not help us live longer either.

One For All & All For One It Seems

It is clear, however, that the toxins are affecting the animals all throughout the food chain. This starts from the bottom of the food chain, such as shellfish and invertebrates that gather the toxins from feeding. The upper parts of the food chain then do as their instincts suggest and eat these smaller creatures, absorbing the toxins. This is how it is believed that this will one day begin to affect the people that are eating these affected fish. This sort of thing can literally travel through an entire food chain, and destroy everything in it. It is exactly what our biology teachers in school warned us about. Funny how such a silly thing comes to mind now, after it’s already happening.

Cause & Effect

Like a curse of some long forgotten magic, this toxic algae will continue to spread with the warmer waters until it affects even more. Regardless of what causes global warming, it is happening, whether you believe it or not. When something affects one ecosystem, it ends up affecting all of them. If this begins to affect humans, who knows what havoc it could reek upon us, our children and future generations. Individually it could spawn new diseases, and epidemics of current diseases. For the seafood market, it could lead to bankruptcy. It’s not a pleasant thing to think about, but it is happening nonetheless. Whether we can do anything about it at this point is still a good question, which hopefully has a positive answer.

Sources:

https://www.wikipedia.com

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/16/this-could-explain-all-those-strange-happenings-in-alaskas-waters/

http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/news/features/algal_blooms_in_arctic_waters/index.cfm