Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ancient Parasites Released By Arctic Melting

No photo description available.
Cross section of Sarcocystis pinnipedi (purple dye) which has been newly released from Arctic ice and now wreaking havoc

While dummies, disinformationists and tools continue to try to deny global warming, havoc reigns in the larger world from cracking glaciers and melting ice sheets to now....ancient parasites being released from their frozen lairs to parasitize new hosts.

One such newly identified parasite,  once frozen safely in Arctic tundra is Halichoerus grypus. As reported in research published by Michael Grigg - a molecular parasitologist at the National Institutes of Health -the parasite has now been linked to the deaths of hundreds of grey seal pups on Canada's Hay Island.

Grigg and colleagues also found another  parasite (see graphic) that infects about 80 percent of ringed seals but doesn't make them sick. However, it does cause inflammation and damages tissues. This happens by the process of cyst formation, a natural reaction of many mammals to parasite infestation. For example, tapeworm larvae which make their way to human brains are often encysted, e.g.

Interestingly, researchers had noticed parasite-filled cysts in ringed seals before but hadn't identified the organism. The pressure
 wasn't on to do so until it began laying waste other species.  These included: Hawaiian monk seals, and Stellar sea lions.

Grigg suspects rising temperatures and melting ice encouraged grey seals to follow fish into ringed seal territory where they've  become prey to the newly thawed parasites.  Even worse, the new parasites have also been found in some beluga whales in the Beaufort sea, north of Alaska.

Researchers also point out that a warming Arctic may help the parasites survive further north than it ever could before.  Meanwhile, humans continue to dither and debate whether global warming is "real" as the entire planet and now whole ecological niches are being altered around us.

Perhaps humans aren't fit to be stewards of this planet!

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