LIPA CITY, Philippines, June 2, 2011 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — A multi-national coalition of researchers has been formed to study and treat a massive fish kill of over 800 metric tonnes which started on May 27 in Taal Lake, in the Philippine province of Batangas. Sponsored by the World Mind Network, it will involve on-site as well as online cooperation between biology students in the U.S. and the Philippines, as well as volunteers from Batangas State University and local schools.
Some of the team members worked previously on water quality problems after Typhoon Onday in Metro Manila two years ago. They pioneered a method of solving public health crises which involves linking cell networks, Twitter and Facebook trackers, and teams to monitor and forward SMS messages between and among victims and authorities.
The team includes Brandon Seeley and John Toomey, founding directors of the World Mind Network, former consultants for the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, AP Biology students at Apponequet Regional High School in Massachusetts, and volunteers from the fraternity Batangas Varsitarian. On-site volunteers will take water and fish samples, and test them for oxygen content, toxins, salinity, and the presence of hydrogen sulfide and toxic sulfur compounds.
This is the biggest fish kill in Taal Lake since 2008, when 54 metric tonnes of milkfish died in a similar way. Authorities say the dying may continue for a month or more, depending upon the weather.
Several theories exist to explain the die-off. The predominant one is that the beginning of the rainy season lowered oxygen levels in the lake. A problem with this is that the rainy season happens at about the same time every year, and yet fish kills like this one are very rare.
Some believe that overfeeding of commercial fish cages caused the die-off. Others think that increased emissions of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur from the Taal volcano may be a factor. These were noticed during earlier fish kills. The team plans to make its findings available to fishermen and local authorities as soon as possible so that appropriate responses can be implemented.
The project website is at sites.google.com/site/batangasfishkillresearchgroup .
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