BY KATHERINE KELLY
Recently in the headlines are alarming reports about the massive starfish die-off on the west coast. Most reports I read point a hysterical finger at the radiation from the Fukashima disaster as the probable cause. This might be more likely if the problems with oceanic health happened suddenly, and only since the Fukashima disaster. But that isn’t the case at all. Die-offs of ocean species have been happening for years, decades even, without generating hysterical headlines and finger pointing to any particular cause. Could it be we don’t really want to know because it’s easier to blame the “other” than ourselves and our destructive practices?
If radiation is the cause of the most recent starfish die-off, what was the cause of the last one that happened on the east coast in 2011 before the radioactive plume was an issue? The die-off actually has a name, Starfish Wasting Disease, and was first recorded in 1997, 15 years before the Fukashima disaster. Radiation as the cause of the current die-off has been ruled out. It’s more likely a bacterial or viral infection, and affects only the starfish. Other sea life in the same area continues to flourish.
The great sardine die-off is another attributed to the radioactive plume. But there have been sardine die-offs in the past when there was no plume or radiation to blame it on. The last massive die-off happened in 1960, to the extent where California instituted a moratorium on sardine fishing that lasted for 18 years. Sardines are cyclical, and flourish when the ocean environment is doing well, and diminish when the ecosystem crashes.
Malnutrition seems to play a large part in the sea life die-offs as well. The collapse of the sardine population caused seals to forage for other less nutritious food sources which created undernourished and sickened seal pups. These pups washed up on California shores en mass. When samples of the currently sickened and dying seals were tested for radiation as a probable cause, they discovered the levels were on par to samples taken in 1990, long before the Fukashima disaster.
Fear and imagination along with poor journalistic and critical thinking skills all add up to unfounded hysteria about the Fukashima radiation that’s supposedly heading our way and going to kill us all. While doing a Google search to try to find more information on the starfish die-off I was taken aback by all the conspiracy websites screaming frantic headlines about how we’re all doomed and the government is lying. Before buying into any such hysterical cries I always dig deeply to try and find a rational voice, and with considerable digging, I finally managed to find some solid information on our impending doom, or lack thereof.
From the publication Deep Sea News, written by some of the finest scientific minds in oceanic research, this is what they had to say about the radioactive plume:
“The plume is predicted to reach the US West Coast in April 2014 and it will be “detectable but not harmful.” Samples taken off the coast of Vancouver Island in June 2013 show the plume has reached it, but the observed concentrations are at most 1 Bq/m3. In other words, 7400 times less than the EPA’s maximum concentrations for drinking water so the levels are not harmful for humans or sea life.”
Naysayers will surely scoff at this less than apocalyptic prediction based on…scientific research and evaluation…but there will always be those who look at the studies and refuse to change their beliefs. I personally watched in dumbfounded amazement as the so-called leaders of our community scoffed at the science behind fluoridation, preferring instead to rely on what they’ve always known about it: industry propaganda. In both cases reasonable minds will eventually prevail.
For anyone interested in reading research on the subject of the radioactive plume, take a look at Deep Sea News: http://deepseanews.com/2014/01/first-results-from-crowdfunded-study-shows-radioactive-seawater-from-fukushima-has-not-reached-the-us-coast/