Fish Story 1

Fish Story 1


Part 1
By Jim E. Quarles.

Amazon Puzzle Solved:

? In relating this series of events I hope I am not putting tropical fish culture at risk for the discus hobbyist. But certain dangers would result by keep the secrets I am about to reveal bottled up any longer.

About three years ago I received a telephone call from a mid-level government official whom I am even presently not allowed to name. This individual works for the State Department of the United States, with his office in Washington D.C.

This person just happens to be a big discus fan and breeder. I had met this person at a fish show some years ago at a fish show in San Jose California.

We had kept in touch off and on via mail and E mail since that time. Little did I realize what startling and strange information would result from his casual friendship. I will simply refer to this person as Mr. Charleston. To protect his life.

The telephone call came at ll:00 pm on a Friday night. He seemed frightened and extremely nervous as I remember the call. It was the last call I would get from him, he was found dead in a one car crash the next evening. I found out later his brakes failed on a almost new car, which resulted in his auto crashing into a power pole and caught fire.

When I received his call I started to ask him questions about his wife and kids, his fish and hobby. But he quickly cut me off the subject. He asked me if I could name someone I trusted 100% with a mail package he wanted to send me. He did not want to send it direct to me. I said sure but started to ask a few questions but he refused to say what was in the package, he just told me to read it. I sent him the name of a close friend who lived in Santa Barbara, California. He quickly hung up the phone before I could ask any more questions. When I had asked him why he could not send the information to me directly he said it is to dangerous for both of us to handle it that way.

Well I was surprised and a little concerned at the end of our talk but dismissed the whole event from my mind and by the next day other projects claimed my time.
Looking back on things now I understand why he gave me the telephone number of a paging service for his brother should I need to contact him after reading the information he was sending. In no event was I to contact him thought the agency.

I alerted my friend in Santa Barbara, California that he would soon receive a package he was to forward it on to me without opening it. I will refer to this person as Mr. Peterson which of course is not his real name nor his location in Santa Barbara. When you hear the details to follow you will understand why real names and locations could not be used.

I had met Mr. Peterson while I was hired by the C.I.A in Egypt in 1984-85 under the cover of working for Y-systems Inc. out of Dallas, Texas. Our jobs were entirely different but we shared common living arrangements with others at El Arish in the Sinai-desert near the border with Israel.

Ten days after the strange telephone call a package arrived in the regular mail. I opened it wondering just what all the fuss was all about and feeling a little strange and not wanting to get involved in any more C.I.A. or State Department projects.

When I opened The package I found another package sealed in side with a note attached to its outside surface, also there were newspaper clippings and some test results from the fish & game people In Peru. A few other reports about water tests from the department of health in about four locations within the Amazon river system that runs through Peru. I was surprised all the information was written in English or translated by hand writing into English.

The note on the second package simply stated do not open until you have read all the other items supplied here with. Also the package had the C.I.A. stamp on it which stated, Top Secret, with the notation provided to only those with a need to know should see the documents.

Seeing this I knew someone was trying very hard to keep something from the public or other governmental agencies. Typical C.I.A. practice, if people don't know what you're doing they can not question the amount of time, effort or money being spent on any given event or project.

The news item talked about young cattle being found dead face down in the small creeks and feeder streams the feed into the mighty Amazon River. Also noted was that this was happening at ever enlarging circles from the first such find. The loss of cattle was first noticed in 1982, but little was written about it. After all we are talking about one of the worlds largest jungle areas.

At first the area was rather small and confined to a reasonable area and limited loss of calves to yearlings.

What ever was causing the death of the young steers was not effecting the full grown cattle in the same area.

After reading all this information, I wondered if Charles, my State Department friend, had gone off the deep end. Why should this interest me in the least?

I opened the package containing the biological and medical reports prepared by both disease control office of the United Nations. Each report was on about a specific where calves were found dead in fairly large numbers over a five month time span in 1994-95 and the last dated report was only three months ago.

By the time I had examined all the files I had spent six hours, so I set aside the information and retired for the night.

The next three days were just to0 busy for me to get back to the Charles papers. I had shipments of fish to pack and ship. I had advertising to arrange and a ton of letters to attend to. So I think it was about a week before I had time again to try to figure out just what the Charles puzzle was all about.

When I was able to pickup where I had left off, I became aware of the on site reports of local medical examiners. To state that the facts reported were strange would be a vast understatement. In each reported case of an animal's death there were no reported signs of injury or disease. No signs of any kind of animal attack or fighting of any kind where ever found. In all cases blood was noticed to drip from the nose and mouth of the calves as they were examined. So what ever was attacking the cattle had to be some sort of parasite or internal disease.

Samples of the lungs and mouth as well as brain were sent to the major laboratories in Peru and the United Nations headquarters in New York.

When all the reports returned negative the field people were back to ground zero. During the time span they were waiting for the reports to come back more calves were found in the same condition up and down the small streams.

Then reports of other animals found in almost the same conditions began to filter into the reports. Wild pigs, even monkey's that were found a fairly good distance from the streams were being reported.

It became quite clear that the cause of these deaths had to be found and some sort of control devised quickly.

With each passing day the number of dead animals were increasing in ever widening circles from the point where the first deaths were reported. While the total number of dead animals remained small it became clear that what ever was doing the damage was increasing in numbers and gaining ground in new places that had be unaffected just a few weeks before.

The first hint was found after entire dead animals were shipped out for examination to the labs. In each case the animals had extreme lung and heart damage. In most cases the entire heart was disrupted. The fat and grizzle was more or less intact, but the lean meat was gone or very badly damaged. The lungs in each case had small tiny holes in many places next to the location of the heart it self.

This was something that was new to the area, nothing like it had ever been eported before. It looked almost as if the heart had exploded, sending bits and tiny particles of heart into the lung cavity. Also noted was that the lungs were full of water and blood. Little notice of this was made since the dead animals were almost always found in the streams in shallow water.

Since no causative answer had been found, the only avenue left to be explored was to the find something new in the native environment that could explain it.

A quick study found nothing strange to report other than the heavy populations of brown discus found in the streams and even the very shallow creeks in the area.

The natives in the area kept telling the investigators something about the fish in the area, but they paid little notice of their raving about fish or fishing. With no new leads it was decided to ask help from Environmental Research Center located about five miles from the major site of the dead zone.

The center had been built with funds from a very rich American Publisher to study the native fish of the area, to improve the capture methods used to export ornamental tropical fish. and to culture those fish under the most pressure brought about by the present exporting practice.

The actual culturing was mostly neon tetra's, angelfish and discus. But a great deal of time had been spent since the center was built ten years ago studying the basic environment and its affects on the food chain of the river systems near by.

When the first calves were sent to the center, the experts were as bewildered as everyone else had been to that point in time. But one evening as the internal organs of the calves were being studied, Jaun Garcia stopped by the lab for a cup of coffee.

Jaun was in charge of the angelfish and discus study department at the center. I said while looking at the heart section on the table, " Just like my little discus fishes! Dr. Hardly said what do you mean Jaun? He answered, look all the lean part is gone, only the fat and grizzle is left! Same as when I feed my fishes. They only eat the learn parts of the beefheart I feed them.

With that clue and finding each animal with large numbers of discus fry in the lungs it became clear what was happening.! The center had been feeding hormoned beefheart to angelfish and discus for ten or more years, some of the fish had been released back into the river systems when they were no longer used for study.

Some how the fry had managed to swim into the calves nose and mouth while it was drinking and attacked the lung enough to reach the calves heart. The lungs then filled with water and the calves dropped into the water, thousands of other discus fry then went to work on the heart. Most were able to swim back out, but of course some never made it back to the stream, these were the ones found in all the calves and other animals that had died.

After a good deal of research the results were confirmed: discus fry were killing the cattle.


To end this report it must be told that less then two weeks ago half a dozen natives mostly children were found dead along feeder streams-the heart of all was disrupted with only the fat and grizzle left.


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