At Wired news Brandon Keim does a bang-up job explaining how an international research team headed by a Columbia University man figured out why so many feeble, stunted salmon with failing hearts have been turning up in fish farms in Norwegian waters and elsewhere off northern Europe’s shores. Most admirable is how much information he packs into what is little more than a news bulletin. He sketches the genomic detective work in tracing it to a previously unknown virus, linking it to the crowded conditions in salmon pens, noting the possible impact of the concentrated viruses there on nearby wild salmon, and providing context with viruses that affect other, land-based livestock operations.
The news arises from a report in PLoS One. A press release from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health (in Grist below) propels it along. Keim appears to have beavered up information not in the press release and from sources not named there. It also gets pick up from a few other outlets, not all with equal additional enterprise. This news cries out for a deeper look – and, one suspects, marks the opening in a new level of concern over the long-term difficulties of fish farming in the context of collapse of so many over-fished wild stocks. Plus, one is curious exactly how this bioinformatics work was done.
- Time Magazine – Bryan Walsh: A virus threatens Farmed Salmon: Walsh got this out even earlier than Keim, judging from datelines.
- FIS (industry newsletter) Natalia Real: Salmon virus potential threat to wild stocks ; It looks a bit like it advances the ball with enterprise reporting, but mainly it is lightly rewritten off the release.
- Norway.com (Apr. 14, 2009) : Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation: A “New’ Infectious Disease of Atlantic Salmon; A blog with history of the ailment’s discovery. It deals with earlier work by one of the co-authors of the new PLoS report.
– Charlie Petit