Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mystery disease wiping out African Crocs

The crocodile population has crashed from 1,000 to 400 in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and experts don’t know why. (Scientific American) One thing the dead crocs have in common is hardened fat deposits in their tails, lots of it, so much they’re unable to hunt. Researchers are finding similar hardening in the park’s fish, too.

Is the culprit something natural? Microorganisms (dinoflagellates or cyanobacteria) may be, for some reason, “releasing toxins similar to those that cause red tides in marine environments.”

Or is it something unnatural? Upstream from the park, there are “hundreds of coal mining operations… where crocodiles have disappeared almost completely.” There’s a dam, too, which may be slowing the flow of water in the crocs habitat enough for toxins to build up.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.