Millions of trees, plants, animals, insects, people and mammals like the sharks in this story are dying all around the globe as a result of fungal (mold) infections. As I have said before, this is truly a modern day plague disguised by a multitude of mystery diagnosis and diseases of unknown origins.

This article was brought to my attention by Sharon Noonan Kramer who said:

“This article is about SF Bay sharks and rays becoming confused by a fungal brain injury resultant from plumes of fungi in the water under certain conditions. Their disorientation causes them to beach themselves, then die.

With meningitis established as a cause of death, Okihiro next took samples from tissues and fluid around the sharks’ brains, and isolated a set of still-unidentified fungal pathogens that he thinks infected and killed them. The pathogens, Okihiro said, seem to enter through the sharks’ ears or nose, and then travel up a set of ducts into the brain”

BayNature.org reported this week:

Hundreds of leopard sharks and bat rays have washed up dead or dying on the San Francisco Bay shoreline this spring, the second year in a row of mass elasmobranch death in the Bay and the third major die-off in the last six years. But for the first time since an unusual shark stranding was first reported in the East Bay a half-century ago, scientists say they’re close to an explanation.

“I look at it as a 50-year-old shark murder mystery, and we are hopefully closing in on the killer,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife senior fish pathologist Mark Okihiro, who has led the stranding investigation.

The 2017 die-off started in mid-March and has been concentrated around Foster City and Redwood City, with additional reports from Hayward, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. Okihiro, who is based in Southern California, hiked five miles of shoreline around Foster City in the last week of April and found 24 dead or dying leopard sharks and two dead rays. The event is ongoing and appears to be “heating up some,” he wrote in an email this week.

With meningitis established as a cause of death, Okihiro next took samples from tissues and fluid around the sharks’ brains, and isolated a set of still-unidentified fungal pathogens that he thinks infected and killed them.

How the pathogens might have made it into the sharks’ brains in the first place says a lot about the complicated modern Bay. Two centuries of development and fill means that most of the flow of water along the bayshore is controlled — in flood control channels, managed wildlife ponds, and man-made lagoons like the ones surrounding the houses in Foster City. That often stagnant water has become, Okihiro said, like a “giant broth culture” for fungi, and when the water conditions are right the fungal pathogens go nuts and “explode into billions of infective particles in the water column.” Big rain events then push a toxic plume of pathogens out into the wider Bay — just as large groups of the sharks are coming into shallow water to spawn.

The pathogens, Okihiro said, seem to enter through the sharks’ ears or nose, and then travel up a set of ducts into the brain — a pathway recently uncovered by Long Beach State shark biologist Chris Lowe.

Read more from BayNature.org