WORRYING RECENT discoveries of large Queensland groper washing up dead on beaches and in inlets have researchers scratching their heads.
Modern Fishing first reported on the deaths in 2008, and since then monthly discoveries of large dead groper in Far North Queensland has been the norm.
It has recently been revealed the cause of death for the 50-plus dead groper that have washed up in the past two years is septicaemia (blood poisoning), caused by bacterial infections.
But scientists are still unable to explain the reason for the bacterial-based infection rearing its head in Queensland waters. Septicaemia is normally introduced to the bloodstream via deep-puncture wounds or trauma, but almost all dead fish found to be carrying the infection were in very good condition.
The bacteria Streptococcus algalactiae has been recorded in most but not all dead groper discovered in Queensland waters, and scientists believe it may be responsible for weakening fish and making them susceptible to blood poisoning.
Scientists fear this recent bacterial plague may begin to impact on other species of marine wildlife, and could pose threats to ecosystems beyond its obvious impact on the Queensland groper.
Worldwide, the bacteria has already been responsible for huge fish kills in the UK, Kuwait and Israel.
Anyone who discovers a dead groper should ring the Qld DPI&F on 132 523.