Indonesian authorities have stepped up bird flu monitoring after thousands of poultry have died on Java island in recent months, officials said Wednesday. A strain of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus was believed to have caused the deaths among poultry in Jakarta and other areas, said Emil Agustiono, the head of the National Zoonosis Committee. “We are investigating whether the source of the outbreak were imported poultry,” he said. “If it came from one source, it will be easier to contain.” “We must remain vigilant and step up biosecurity to prevent its spread.” No humans had been infected by the latest strain detected on Java, said the Health Ministry’s director for disease control, Tjandra Yoga Aditama. He said the same mutation had also been found in Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.


   Marine biologists are working to uncover what caused several thousand Humboldt squid to wash ashore along the Santa Cruz County shoreline on Sunday. Thousands of squid carcasses are littering the 12 mile stretch of coastline from Aptos to Watsonville, where the high tide may have had something do to with the sea creatures essentially committing mass suicide. The general public is advised by scientists not to touch or eat the squid, as they may contain dangerous toxins. Hanna Rosen, a graduate student at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, told San Francisco’s CBS affiliate that she saw people trying to put the squid back in the sea, only to watch them return to the beach. ‘They don’t see the shore very often,’ Rosen said. ‘So it might just be that they don’t understand what’s going on around them, and they’re just trying to get away and don’t realize that if they swim towards the shore, they’re going to run out of water eventually.’ Scientists from Stanford said the squid were predominantly juveniles as adult Humboldt squid can grow up to six-feet long and 100 pounds. They added that the squid were probably conceived and born in Monterey Bay, but were unable to navigate their way out to open waters.

Tests have shown that the stranded squid were well-fed from feasting on smaller market squid and cannibalizing each other, which is normal behavior for the creatures. Sunday’s phenomenon marks the third squid stranding in the past six weeks, from Santa Cruz to Pacific Grove. Marine biologists are currently analyzing the contents of the animals’ stomachs to see if they ingested something that might have disoriented them. One theory under consideration is that the squid were disorientated after consuming toxic algae.Scientists have found traces of domoic acid, a toxin produced by algae, in some of the beached squid, but the findings are so far inconclusive. Humboldt squid have not been observed in the Monterey Bay waters for a few years, making recent events all the more suspicious. Some scientists attribute the phenomenon to this year’s El Nino weather patterns, which could have attracted them to the cooler climates of Northern and Central California’s coast. Conservation of the Humboldt squid off the coast of California is not a major concern because the squid can reproduce in mass numbers.



   It could be some time before Fisheries authorities know what killed hundreds of fish and crabs in Safety Bay this week but early indications point to low oxygen levels. Hundreds of fish including herring and flounder, blue manner crabs and eels were found dead over several days on the beach near Tern Island and the Bent Street boat ramp. Many concerned readers contacted the Courier over the weekend after spotting the dead marine life. Department of Fisheries spokesman on fish health Paul Hillier said the department had visited the site several times this week, but had been unable to find suitable samples of fish to test – with most too decayed. Mr Hillier said it was too early to confirm what had caused the deaths with water samples also being tested. “From the reports received and observations of the Fisheries officers, it appears that excess weed in the water system has probably depleted the dissolved oxygen, which may have caused the fish kill,” he said. “But the fish health researchers can’t confirm that conclusively until the appropriate testing is completed.”

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