Kuwait University

ELU/Science-162 Fall 2003 ( Last updated: Summer 2004)

Instructor: Buthaina Al Othman

Week 3

Note Taking, Outlining, and Paraphrasing

Fish-kill in Kuwait*

Mystery bacterium killing Kuwaits fish
Kuwaiti fishermen are facing financial ruin after more than 2,000 tonnes of dead fish have been washed ashore, after succumbing to an unexplained fate.
Despite launching several investigations into the month-long environmental disaster, the Kuwaiti government has admitted they are unsure as to what has caused the deaths in the Gulf waters. Government officials have said that a Streptococcus bacterium from Kuwait City was responsible for the disaster, but the source of the bacteria has yet to be identified.

Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad Sharar explained that the government has sent samples of the dead fish abroad for analysis. "Results are with scientists and they are studying the phenomenon," he said. "It is difficult to know when they will present their final reports."

Fishing is a major industry in Kuwait, second only to the oil industry, and some 4,000 fishermen depend on the Gulf water fish for their livelihoods. Earlier this month the government banned fishing and deployed the military to help clean up the millions of rotting fish strewn along Kuwaits coastline.

Streptococcal disease is extremely rare in saltwater fish. In August 1999, a massive fish-kill around the islands of the southern Caribbean was traced to the bacterium Streptococcus iniae, the first time ever in the open ocean. Officials believed that a higher-than-normal seawater temperature was a strong possibility for the outbreak in 1999. One local Grenadine scientist suggested that the extreme summer heat in August killed the fish. Water temperatures are also being measured as one theory triggering the bacterial stress and growth in the Kuwaiti case.

Some Kuwaiti experts and newspapers have attributed the blame to the alleged pumping of raw sewage into the Gulf. The presence of raw sewage in such an ecosystem has been linked with increased algal blooms, that could deprive the fish of oxygen and cause such a scenario.

A third possibility points towards the dumping of waste from the oil industry. Interestingly, an early report from the Caribbean outbreak in 1999 indicated "the dumping of hazardous chemicals and toxic waste from a cruise line was responsible."

Signs of streptococcal disease in fish are abnormal behaviour, such as erratic swimming, whirling motion at the surface of the water, darkening of the skin, blindness, pop-eyes and small lesions on the fishs body, fins and anus. Antibiotics are currently used to control the streptococcal bacterium, which causes $150 million a year in losses worldwide.

Jamie Baldwin]

*Source: The BBC

The above news story is copied from the BBCi Website, without any violation to its terms of use.

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