As thick red blood gushes from a pipe on the ocean’s floor, underwater photographer Tavish Campbell holds up a large sign reading: “2019 Fish Farm Virus Still Flowing.”
Campbell dove in Brown’s Bay, B.C., four times since Oct. 31 and recorded a video of what he saw underwater, almost two years after he first exposed bloody effluent pouring into the waters around B.C.’s Discovery Islands, where one of Canada’s largest migratory routes for wild salmon is located.
“I went back to do a dive as I was very curious to see if anything had changed,” Campbell told CTV News. “I am disappointed to say that nothing has changed. The blood is still flowing and we got it tested and unfortunately it is still infected.”
The bloody wastewater comes from a pipe connected to Brown’s Bay Packing. The company, which is located near Campbell River, B.C., has been processing farmed Atlantic salmon since 1989.
“When I dive I have an underwater camera with two big lights and the minute I turn them on, it illuminates this brilliant red colour,” Campbell said. “It is blood, water, scales and mucus just pouring out.”
Tavish Campbell diving
It’s not the first time Campbell has witnessed this spectacle through his underwater lens. The 30-year-old photographer first discovered the pipe in the fall of 2017.
In addition to filming it, he also collected samples to be tested for any viruses and bacteria.
Campbell repeated that process during his recent dives.
“Two years ago the bloodwater was indeed infected with a virus known as PRV, so this time I was hoping it wouldn’t be infected, my fingers were crossed,” he said.
The samples were sent to Prince Edward Island where they were tested by scientists at the Atlantic Veterinary College. They were also analyzed by independent biologist and marine activist Alexandra Morton.
“Once again we found high levels of this very infectious virus, which most researchers believe comes from the Atlantic Ocean and is commonly found in farmed Atlantic salmon,” said Morton
Piscine orthoreovirus, or PRV, is highly contagious in fish. While some researchers say it poses little risk to wild salmon stocks, others have linked it to heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, a potentially fatal condition that causes heart lesions and organ hemorrhaging.
Scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are currently conducting several projects to determine PRV’s connection to fish disease and its impact on fish. The findings will be reported when available, the department says.
Authors: Melanie Nagy, Jackie Dunham and Ben Cousins /CTV News (Read the entire article here)
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