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Experts find cause of massive fish deaths near Green Island

Experts find cause of massive fish deaths near Green Island

A leading expert said yesterday that the cause of a massive fish die-off at the end of last year around Green Island off the coast of eastern Taitung County was the streptococcus bacteria.
Over the course of two weeks in late December, island residents found a great number of fish, including 26 species, washed up on the shore. The residents first believed that the fish had been illegally poisoned, or killed with electric shocks or dynamite by poachers, and some of them picked up the fish as food. But as the number of dead fish increased, residents began to doubt the cause of death.
Researchers collected samples that were examined by the Penghu Marine Biology Research Center of the Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute, which excluded electrofishing or dynamiting as the cause of death.
Toxicology tests at other institutes showed that the fish were not poisoned, but Tsai Shin- shyong, professor of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, discovered that several samples were contaminated with the streptococcus bacteria. Streptococcus is generally found in closed aquaculture facilities where the quality of water is poor, especially during warm weather. "The Green island case might be the first in the world in which fish living in the open ocean have been contaminated with the bacteria collectively, " said Jeng Ming-shiou, deputy director of the Biodiversity Research Center of Academia Sinica (中央研究院) and the expert responsible for the investigation, in an interview with CNA.
Many additional aspects are also awaiting investigation, added Jeng, including why more than 1,000kg of big fish could be contaminated in the open ocean.