Since July of this year, scientists estimate 2,000 leopard sharks have died as the result of a parasite eating away at their brain. While leopard sharks seem to be the marine species most affected by the parasite, large numbers of dead bat rays, striped bass, smooth hound sharks, and halibut have been recorded. The parasite is similar to the common amoeba and enters through the shark’s nose to enter the brain where it slowly eats away at it until the shark succumbs to it. The parasite is known by its scientific name as Miamiensis avidus.
Currently this epidemic seems to be contained in the Bay Area, however, scientists are unsure whether this parasite could spread to the entire California coast. Leopard sharks, and other marine life affected by the parasite, are key elements of the food chain and would have a ripple affect on marine life if their populations are drastically affected.
However, The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is unable to dedicate any funding toward this epidemic as resources are already spread thin and needed elsewhere.
This is what Dr. Mark Okihiro had to say about the marine life being affected:
“This year is unusual in that there has been a large number of other species that have also been dying. This pathogen can tackle a variety of different species … we’ve had a much more diverse group of fish that have been found dead in the San Francisco Bay.”
Read the full article here.