Something strange is happening in San Francisco Bay. Thousands of leopard sharks, and hundreds of bat rays, striped bass, halibut, and smoothhound sharks are mysteriously dying. Oddly, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says, “Determining the cause is not a priority for the state since the sharks are not threatened or endangered.” But scientists want to know more.
What started with leopard sharks has spread to other fish species in the bay. Mark Okihir, a research scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been studying this phenomenon in his spare time and believes a parasite known as Miamiensis avidus is the likely culprit.
Apparently, the parasite makes its way through the shark’s nose and up into its brain—where it feeds on brain tissue. This can make the shark swim in circles or beach itself, as Okihiro has witnessed. While we only see the sharks that wash ashore, Dr. Andrew Nosal, a marine biologist at UC San Diego, said, “I think it’s almost certain that the number of sharks that have died is much higher."
Read more here.
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