Freshwater Mussels via The Ephemeral Stag

 

Walking along the riverbanks, lake sides, and pond shores across the world are empty open shells that were once the shield of protection to many freshwater bivalves, also known as freshwater mussels. I, personally, have even seen shells mixed into “river rock” on playgrounds. When I was a child, I even cut my foot on one hiding in the tiny pebbles of my parks swing set. I never thought much about them. When we would go to the lake to fish or swim, I would collect them like I was a mermaid princess collecting pearls. I would take them home and keep them in my fish tank, which helped my fish live for years. My beta fish named “fish” lived over 6 years because of his little friends (or a parent who lied… time will never know). How little did I know that twenty years later I would be doing the exact same thing. This time instead of a mermaid princess, I get to act in a scientific and ecological manner.

Mussel beds die off due to pollution, water diversion and invasive species.

Worldwide some conservations and ecological organizations estimate upwards to 1,000 species of freshwater mussels and other organizations claim its more like 900 different species. North America houses a known 300 different freshwater mussel species. The US Fish and Wildlife Services claims the North America has the highest diversity in freshwater mussel species in the world. There are many hot spots for mussels in the US including but not limited to the Mid-West and the Appalachian Mountains. It is estimated that over 70% of the endanger freshwater mussels are found in these two areas. Tennessee by itself historically housed 129 of the nation’s freshwater mussel species. Now with in Tennessee, it is estimated to house only 40 species.

There are many types of species in one general area. Most can live harmoniously.

Pre-European Colonization (don’t get me started on that mess) times are in my opinion the most ecologically balanced times in North America. Natives understood the balance between nature and humans. The first uses of mussels in the now US, was by these Natives and was probably food based. Archaeologist and anthropologist have found multiple sites of discarded shells on the banks of rivers around tribal sites. They probably were not a primary food source for the tribes, but the evidence does point to a culinary use. Later, (when Europe sent a bunch of “Karenz” over) there was significant uptick in trade for the shells.

Mussel buttons

During colonization and Pre-Modern day (prior to 1970s), freshwater mussels were harvested from riverbanks by the masses not for food or trade but for buttons. Yes, buttons. The “clammers” would use boats and drag the river bottoms looking for mussel beds. They would then shell the poor creature, sand down the roughness, and punch holes through out the shell. These punch outs would then be polished and punched for buttonholes. This type of harvested lasted longer than it should have unfortunately. It wasn’t until the 1900, this type of industry slow due to massive die off of the natural mussel beds.

Dead mussels littering the banks of rivers.

So, what is so fascinating about freshwater mussels? Conservationist around the world are trying to save the species we have left. They act as a natural water filtration system as well as food for fish and castration. They are what is called a “niche” species. So basically, without them we won’t have freshwater ecosystems. They have a rough outer shell that is semi curved on both sides. The shell open for them to eat, breath, mate, and move (yes, they move). Inside is the organs and soft tissue. If you ever open one, it kind of looks like an oyster but smaller.

A freshwater mussel using a lure to bring a host fish close enough to release its offspring into the nose of the host fish.

Freshwater mussels can live in almost any collection of freshwaters from pond and stream all the way to lakes and major rivers. Each species has its preferred depth and habitat. Also, the majority of freshwater mussel need fish to act as a host when mating. Some will even use their soft tissue disguised as a fish or prey to lure in the host fish. These may seem like simple creatures on the surface but they in fact are surprisingly in genius.

A mussel bed on the river floor

While we try to restore, what a boat load of people destroyed, there are still massive problems in their ecosystem that threatens the survival of the species. During the decades between 1930s to 1970s and even later there were over 80,000 dams built in the US, in an effort to use hydro power and control water flows and regulate flood waters. As well as dams the US dug canals and channels to divert water flows. There are over 18,000 canals in the US to this date. Both cause problems for the freshwater mussel by many factors. The waters become deeper in areas that were shallow before which can cause less area the mussels can survive in. It stops or impinges on the migration of the host fish species, causing reproduction to dwindle.

Dead mussels along a pond bank

Newer problems like pollution is not only affecting the host and phytoplankton that they feed on but the mussels themselves. There are multiple studies showing the biological affects of heavy metals, chemical and other man made pollutants. These contaminations cause lower body mass, lowered behavioral movement, and lowered overall survivability for the individual. It’s like if you have to live in your neighbors trash dump. You can’t find food. You can’t find love. And you won’t survive long periods of time.

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Lastly, invasive species are also causing a threat to the native freshwater mussels. Many species will come in on boats from other areas and take advantage of the new area. Other mussels, like the Zebra Mussel of Russia, leach off others for nutrients and other sustainable substances. There are new policies of how to maintain and care for the boats traveling in different waters, in order to slow the progression of the spread. However, it will take a lot of help from us as humans to undo our mistake.

Invasive Zebra Mussels attached to a native freshwater mussel

Protecting endangered species should be a priority for conservationists. A creature like the freshwater mussel is overlook so many times. It is important to know how vital they are to the ecosystem and how not to cause them more harm. Things you can do to help the protect these creatures is 1. To vote in all elections. Do your research! 2. Cut down on plastic usage. Many plastics and industries run off contaminate the water. 3. Spread your knowledge! A lot of people don’t see freshwater mussels as creatures that need protection or that they even exist and why they are important.

Sources

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/americas-freshwater-mussels-are-going-extinct-heres-why-that-sucks/

https://www.knowablemagazine.org/article/living-world/2019/hidden-strengths-freshwater-mussels

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/freshwater_mussels/index.html

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/12/freshwater-mussels-die-off-united-states/

https://molluskconservation.org/MUSSELS/What_Mussel.html

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/clams/mussels.html

https://xerces.org/endangered-species/freshwater-mussels/about

Walking along the riverbanks, lake sides, and pond shores across the world are empty open shells that were once the shield of protection to many freshwate

via Forgotten Mussels — The Ephemeral Stag

The Future of Water

Where will water come from?

Earlier this month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their landmark report on Global Warming of 1.5°C which warned the world has just 12 years to limit global warming in order to avoid extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. So now feels like as good a time as ever to talk about the future.

What’s IS the world going to look like in 2050? or in 2100? And what role will water resources play in it all?

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Here in Australia it’s already clear that growing city populations and the drying climate have impacted the water storage levels. And in Perth, meeting our water supply demand by storing rainwater in dams is a distant memory. Clean drinking water in Perth is now sourced almost entirely from groundwater (~ 46%) and desalination (~45%) with less than 7% attributed to rainfall. Worryingly, almost half of people in WA don’t know where their drinking water comes from! If recent events in Cape Town teach us anything it’s that public awareness of clean water supplies is a crucial element of resource sustainability.

As water-related problems get more complicated we need to get smarter – the water industry needs digital disruption; machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) are combining to disrupt the way water businesses operate

As time goes by water is likely to play a larger role in political tension as well; both on a national and international scale. Researchers from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) analysed past “hydro-political interactions” (instances of conflict and cooperation over water resources) in international river basins to identify where conflict is likely to emerge around the world.

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So in the spirit of National Water Week, we here at Urbaqua encourage you to take a moment to think about the role that water currently plays in your life, how important clean water resources are to the way we live, and what you can do at an individual level to help relieve the enormous pressures that we’re collectively facing on sustainable clean water.

 

It’s National Water Week and the theme is ‘Water for Me, Water for All‘. Earlier this month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their landmark report on Global Warming of 1.5°C which warned the world has just 12 years to limit global warming in order to avoid extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. […]

via The Future of Water — The Essential Current

All I could think of was….. say my name. Say my name. In the pounding surf, in the wind shivering the palms. In the quiet of your arms. Say my name. It has been a total of 168 Days since Hurricane Maria made landfall & 182 Days since Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island […]

via Say My Name — Synchronicity Of The Heart

Oh, darn. Study: Most meltwater in Greenland fjords likely comes from icebergs, not glaciers — Watts Up With That?

Forest fires force hundreds to evacuate in Appalachia

Dozens of wildfires ravaging forests in Appalachia are prompting mass evacuations — including an entire town in western North Carolina, a state official said. The Party Rock Fire, which has consumed about 2,000 acres, was headed toward Lake Lure, a community of about 1,200 people, beside a lake by the same name in Chimney Rock…

via Forest fires force hundreds to evacuate in Appalachia — myfox8.com

How to snorkel with sharks without a cage! – Oahu, Hawaii

 

 

/   Sharks are often misunderstood because of Hollywood’s interpretation of them – think Jaws and Snarknado.  One Ocean Diving is a research facility who is trying to change the perception of these gentle giants.  If dolphins are like the dogs of the ocean, sharks would be cats.  Their personality is curious by nature, inquisitive and intelligent, silent, graceful and a bit mysterious.

It’s 7:00 AM and the sun has barely broken over the horizon and clouds from the evening are gently pushed away.  We are in Oahu, Hawaii’s North Shore famous for giant surfing waves but we didn’t come to watch the professionals.  We arrive at Hale’iwa Harbor and see another boat load passengers with a shark cage at the end. About 10 tourist get on this boat. Within minutes a small, non-pretentious boat labeled “One Ocean Diving” appears and we know this is one to get onto.  The tour size is small and intimate, accepting no more than 6 people at a time. The morning air is chilly and we’re thankful for brining wetsuits along with us given our aptitude to snorkeling in much warmer waters.  The tour is managed by a captain, dive master, and intern.

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We are one of the first to board the boat, nervously checking our surroundings Doug asks the captain, “Is that other boat with a cage going to see a different type of shark than we are or are they going somewhere else?” The young captain replies back “No, they are going to see the same sharks, but we are ones crazy enough to do it without a cage.”

Hayley, our dive master  gives us a shark briefing as we pull out of the harbor. Things that could make an already nervous me want to go back to the safety of shore: “The most dangerous part of today’s tour is walking around on this boat” (yeah right). “Sharks have 6 senses so try not to splash or make a lot of noise as this can excite the sharks” (like prey struggling to get out of the water). “No shark selfies, sharks are intelligent and can sneak up behind you” (stalking human pray).  The pep talk wasn’t really working or maybe I was too focused on staying alive.

Our little boat rolls over huge swells coming out of the harbor and I wonder how we’re expected to snorkel in these conditions.  About 15 minutes the boat slows and engine is turned off. A  buoy is thrown over and as we halt, I peer over the railing and see the light grey body of a Galapagos shark magnified through the water.  I’m thinking, “what did I sign myself up for?” Despite my body and mind telling me to turn back to safety, I didn’t come all this way to back out now.

The 2nd batch of swimmers to go into the water I follow Hayley’s instructions to a t. The first look into the water and I’m amazed at the amount of detail. The sharks swim effortlessly through endless blue ocean and we are so close, I can make eye contact.  It’s truly an unforgettable experience that was worth every doubt you may have.

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1. Sharks swim in order of dominance

The most dominant sharks swim at the top of the surface with the least dominant at the bottom.  If you remain at the top of surface, you’re indicating that you’re at the top of food chain.

2. Sharks have 6 senses

Sharks additional sense is electricity and vibrations in the water.  The sharks we saw knew the boat was in their territory 1 mi before we reached.  Sharks can get excited if there are a lot of vibrations so it’s recommended not to splash and attract too much attention.

3. Sharks are respectful of your space 

So long as you make eye contact with them (especially the dominant ones), they are respectful of your space.  They don’t see you as a food source or easy target, but rather they are curious about you.

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4. A simple buoy in the water attracts an ecosystem

A buoy placed in the middle of the ocean is like a palm tree in a desert.  The shrimp are attracted to the surface, the fish are attracted to the shrimp and the sharks are attracted to the fish.

5. Sharks need to keep swimming or else they would suffocate

Sharks need to have water constantly running through their gills so to sleep, sharks will find a current so that water keeps passing through their gills with minimal effort.

So, if you’ve reached the end of this article and you can’t wait to check it out yourself, here’s what you need to know:

Where: North Shore, Oahu through One Ocean Diving
Cost: ~170 USD per person
When to go: ideally book the morning slot because this is when the sharks are most active
Pro tip: if your itinerary is flexible, call One Ocean Diving ahead of time to find out when the conditions will be best for snorkeling
Why we love this company: One Ocean Diving is a research facility and in addition to swimming with the sharks, you get a crash course of shark 101.  The sharks are 100% wild and they do not feed or lure the sharks to tourist.

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via How to snorkel with sharks without a cage! – Oahu, Hawaii — ELLIEGANTME

Beauty and Inspiration…

The solace of empty places and open spaces…

via Crash – Hissss — Heroes ‘N Pirates

Greenwich, CT Carefully Monitors Water Supply — WTNH Connecticut News

GREENWICH, Conn. (WTNH) – Governor Dannel Malloy asked residents statewide to reduce their water consumption and Greenwich is carefully monitoring the water supply. Reservoir levels for the Greenwich system remain low at 26.1% and groundwater levels also remain low. Last week the reservoir levels were at 26.2%. “Residents are reminded that we are still in…

via Greenwich, CT Carefully Monitors Water Supply — WTNH Connecticut News

Snow Facts

It’s not really the most wonderful time of the year unless there is snow involved. Fact. 

DORKING, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 19: A family of snowmen sit on Box Hill on January 19, 2013 in Dorking, United Kingdom. Heavy snow around the UK caused hundreds of flight cancelations at Heathrow, with more travel disruptions expected during a snowy weekend. Approximately 3,000 schools were closed in England, Wales and Scotland. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
This is your reaction when it snows (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Not only can snow be the greatest part of the British weather experience, but it also guarantees more happiness than a decent summer season.

Ah snow. Word on the street (the street being the Met Office) is that we are due a sprinkling of snow, with many places across the UK being treated to a flurry last night.

And snow lovers couldn’t be happier about this.

1. So PRETTY

Of course autumn is really beautiful, what with the leaves all turning to a cosy shade of orange. However, not even the prettiest autumn scene, trees lining a path through an empty park, could ever trump a field full of freshly fallen, untouched snow.

2. Makes Christmas better

There are only two things that could make Christmas Day even better; meeting Santa Clause, or a white Christmas.

Nothing could match the warm fuzzy feeling of waking up early in the morning on Christmas Day and seeing your street transformed as if it’s been draped in a layer of clean cotton wool.

Bing Crosby felt exactly the same way.

3. Snowmen 

You love nothing more than grabbing a few sticks, buttons, pebbles and the obligatory carrot stick and assembling a small team to make an epic snowman.

Of course you take this very seriously, and every time you pride yourself on having the best snowman on the street.

In fact you have a strict method involving rolling a huge ball of snow down a slope in order to get your snowman as big as possible. You have also been known to shed a tear once he melts away. *Sob*

This is your reaction when it snows (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

4. Snow days = best days

There are waves of excitement that still feel the exact same way when you’re an adult as they did when you were a child.

Stuff like watching Home Alone, birthday cake… and snow days.

A snow day feels just as amazing now, when you can’t get into the office, as it did when school was closed.

Especially when you get to the station only to be greeted with signs telling you that all trains are cancelled.

You take this opportunity to power walk home as quickly as possible, alerting everyone you meet on your way that it’s now an official snow day, whilst being busy with thoughts of how to make the most of it.

Of course throwing a few snowballs around is mandatory.

5.  The memories

It doesn’t matter if your school days weren’t your best days, because the memories of snowy times during school definitely makes up for this.

The only thing to trump the mayhem of times when a dog managed to get into the playground was sitting in Maths and seeing thick heavy flakes falling and engulfing everything.

Most of the time your teachers would give up trying to capture your attention and let you out early which was always welcomed.

6. Perfect for long walks

There is something special about being able to stomp over fresh untouched snow whilst wrapped up head to toe in at least six layers of clothing.

Is there anything better than popping on some wellies and going for a long walk in the crisp cold air whilst feeling the soft snow underneath your feet?

Probably not.

Children play as snow covers part of Central Park following a snow storm in New York, February 4, 2014. Up to nine (23 centimeters) more inches of snow was expected to fall in the New York area beginning late in the evening, with a third snowstorm in a week predicted to hit the city over the weekend. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Better than sweating in the park during a muggy July (Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
This is way better than sweating in the park during a muggy July (Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

7. Everything stops

Of course some people don’t like the snow because it causes disruption, but this can actually be a good thing.

It’s nice to have a bit of disruption which causes things to come to a bit of a stop, proving that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t manage to answer all your emails before 6pm.

8. Snow watching is intense 

The only thing that could ever trump a snow filled walk, is sitting inside near the radiator with a hot drink and watching the snow fall and seeing the world turn into a winter wonderland.

Preferably whilst wearing thick woolly socks.

During this ritual you embark upon an emotional roller-coaster as you are glued to the window desperately wishing for the snow to become thicker, and heavier. Any sign of easing off leads to severe disappointment, which can only be ended by another flurry.

9. It’s very exciting 

Waiting for the snow to arrive is a bit like waiting for a baby.

You know that it will come at some point, and despite having a rough time frame you still exhaust yourself with excitement waiting for it to arrive.

Once it finally arrives there is something magical about waking up and being able to tell from the silence outside, and the light reflecting off the snow into your bedroom that your wait is now over.

10. How to deal with haters

Being a lover of snow means you’ve developed a very thick skin to not only deal with the temperature drop, but also all of the people who don’t like the snow.

You’ve figured that if you can convert one snow hater to a snow fan then you’ve pretty much served your purpose on Earth.

11. SLEDGE TIME

You’ve probably got a customised beauty hidden in your garage, or garden shed that you always bring out as soon as the snow lands.

You also know the best parks within a 10 mile radius to go get revel in all the fun that sledging offers. And you head out with a sense of urgency, in order  to get the best of the snow before pesky teenagers ruin it all.

12. It’s never enough

Chances are that most years you will end up slightly disappointed, as the UK tends to only get a small sprinkling.

But this just means that when we receive a heavy snow storm, you take full advantage of this rare event by spending as much time as possible outside.

You will even risk mild frostbite and soggy gloves in order to squeeze in as much time as possible in the snow. And it’s well worth it.

13 things all snow lovers know to be true

13. And it always goes too soon

The fact that snow melts away is one of the biggest tragedies in your life, and each time the sun comes out you are filled with dread.

Especially when it goes from being fresh white pure snow and disintegrates into a brown muddy slushy mess.

The only way to get through this is by remembering all of the good times you’ve had with it, and pinning your hopes on it returning next year. Courtesy of: The Metro UK.

High Rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma can be Life-Threatening in many Communities Worldwide

High Rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma a deadly consequence of residing near industrialized neighborhoods.  Pollution resulting from our Built Environment have resulted in  extensive health disparities worldwide:
About 25% of the USA’a housing —some 24 million homes— contains significant lead-based paint hazards, i.e. deteriorating lead paint or lead contaminated dust. (HUD, 2009).

Benxi steel mills blowing smoke over residential buildings. Benxi was for long considered one of the most polluted city in China. Over the past decade thousands of workers have been made redundant as the city steel mills and power plants were closing down or reducing their output.
Benxi steel mills blowing smoke over residential buildings. Benxi was for long considered one of the most polluted city in China. Over the past decade thousands of workers have been made redundant as the city steel mills and power plants were closing down or reducing their output. Via Bing

The majority of resources and statistics concerning community correlations with respect to health disparities in the U.S. point to a direct correlation between industrialized, lower income communities and rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma associated with living in a those particular communities. Over 4 million children in the U.S. had an asthma attack last year. (National Safety Council, 2015).
Better neighborhoods, generally associated with a higher income, had newer and higher housing standards, and were more financially able to comply with government regulations of lead content and smoke inhalation guidelines. Residents of privileged neighborhoods felt safer than families living in lower income neighborhoods. Poorer, disadvantaged neighborhoods where tenants are dependent on a landlord’s approval to address safety issues, may face a lengthy process if they wish to upgrade and make their living situation safer, or may not be able to afford a particular safety upgrade. This adds to feelings of perceived loss of personal control over ones own living situation resulting in an increased fear factor as well as elevated stress levels, which can have detrimental health effects.
When you’re a little more worried every day, you’re always a little more vigilant, looking around at things, checking people, places and things out a little more carefully. If you think about doing that day after day, year after year, it can be exhausting after a while. Constant worrying about stress and about how and when one is going to pay all the bills that are piling up adds an incredible amount of stress to life. Chronic stress wears on the body system resulting in lowered immunity and increased risk of disease and illness. (Lee, 2015).

Practitioner reports of disabled and impaired motor skills in children are more prevalent in older neighborhoods where lower income, minorities reside. Children in disadvantaged neighborhoods to be less likely to venture outside to exercise and inhale fresh breath fearing the consequences of doing so in a high crime neighborhood.

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Mexico Beach House via JZ Photography

Other physical features that can have a negative effect on health outcomes:
1. Ground Soil Pollution: Lead manufacturing that has resulted in damages to the ground and environment having had profound affects on safe housing for families worldwide. Children from poorer families are the hardest hit by this type of pollution because parents don’t always have the additional resources to relocate their families to safer communities. Children have growing organs that are easily affected by toxic chemicals, and most kids participate in playtime that may include touching the ground on a regular basis exposing them to dangerous toxins.

2. Air Pollution: Asthma and other bronchial related problems resulting from Lead Poisons being emitted into the air as industrial factories release their by products in the form of poisonous gasses as a part of their manufacturing process. Children can be affected for decades after a plants closure. Lead findings as high as 70 times the USDA recommended Lead levels have had devastating effects on public health reports and statistics in towns where communities have been built close to lead and mercury producing facilities. (National Safety Council, 2009). Another similar source of pollution that would have residual effects for years to come was Regular gasoline that included a lead additive which was not known to be harmful till it was finally discontinued in the early 1980’s due to a government regulated Lead ban.

How affordable quality, and safe housing conditions promote health:

By educating practitioners, schools and parents, regarding the government resources available for improving all buildings and homes in an effort to get them up to code with acceptable levels of toxic lead and fume inhalation guidelines. All communities should be declared safe according to government standards, regardless of wealth or relative neighborhood status. We can minimize current health care problems and prevent future health issues by educating all individuals of their rights to safe housing, thus allowing all children to reach their full potential. Equal rights translate to equality of life expectancies throughout the U.S. for all residents. Our founding fathers created the U.S. Constitutional principles upon this premise. (Lee, 2012). Written by: JZ
References:

National Safety Council. (2009) Lead Poisoning. Retrieved from
http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/Fact%20Sheets/Lead-Poisoning- Fact- Sheet.pdf.

City of Roseburg. (2015). Public works projects. Retrieved from
http://www.cityofroseburg.org/departments/public-works/projects/.

Lee, E. (Producer & Director). (2008). Living in disadvantaged neighborhoods is bad for
your health [Video excerpt]. In L. Adelman (Executive producer), Unnatural causes:
Episode 5—Place matters. Arlington, VA: Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved from
http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips_detail.php?res_id=217.

 

Coral damage from BP’s Gulf of Mexico spill ‘extensive’

A plane drops chemicals to help disperse oil from a leaking pipeline that resulted from last week's explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Tuesday, April 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Courtesy of: chibuisiikwuagwu.com

A New study reveals that damage to coral resulting from the massive 2010 BP oil spill in the US Gulf of Mexico is worse than previously thought, according to reports.
The study, which will be published in the oceanography journal Deep-Sea Research, found sick and dying corals in the Pinnacles, an outcropping on the Continental Shelf that is home to a rich, deep-water environment about 70 miles (113 kilometres) off the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi.

Researchers from Florida State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explored the Pinnacles using remotely operated submarines to locate more than 400 colonies of injured coral in 2011,according to wire service Associated Press

The coral was covered in a “scum” of dead tissue and oily residue, while some showed signs of more severe damage, such as bare skeletons and missing branches.

The damage from the spill could be even greater, AP reported.

“The area we have looked at so far is only the tip of the iceberg,” the wire service quoted one of the researchers as saying.

The colonies in the study are about 35 miles to 68 miles (56 kilometres to 109 kilometres) north of BP’s blown-out Macondo well, which spewed more than 3 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Previous discoveries of coral damage were found south of the well and in much deeper water. The coral in the Pinnacles live about 200 feet under the water surface, AP reported.

The researchers believe the damage began when oil floating over the Pinnacles was sprayed with chemical dispersants, causing the oil to sink and contaminate the reef. The study also hypothesises that a tropical storm that passed over the Pinnacles in the summer of 2010 could have caused the oil to contaminate the coral.

Source: Upstream  Related: Clean up Products could cause greater damage

A plane drops chemicals to help disperse oil from a leaking pipeline that resulted from last week’s explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Tuesday, April 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill, cleanup crews dumped some 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico.

The substances were supposed to assist natural oil-eating bacteria in cleaning up the largest marine oil spill in history by breaking the oil into droplets the microbes could more easily consume.

But the approach backfired, suggests a study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The dispersants did a great job in that they got the oil off the surface,” University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha Joye, a co-author of the study, told the Associated Press. “What you see is the dispersants didn’t ramp up biodegradation.”

What’s bothersome, Joye told The Atlantic, is that 24 to 55 percent of the oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Louisiana coast is unaccounted for. She suspects much of it is on the seafloor.
For the study, Joye and her team simulated the Gulf’s conditions in a laboratory. They found that “dispersants can exert a negative effect on microbial hydrocarbon degradation rates.”

Oil with no dispersant actually “degraded a heckuva lot faster than the oil with dispersants,” she told the AP.

Dispersants work a lot like dish detergent, breaking up oil slicks into lots of small droplets. Gulf responders turned to these chemicals, namely Corexit — which studies have since shown can be harmful to various types of marine life — to address the roughly 200 million gallons of oil that spilled from the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The microbes the dispersants were meant to help were the “last (and only) defense” against the ongoing spill, Scientific American noted about a month after the spill.
The major question moving forward: Should dispersants be used to fight future spills?

Doug Helton, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Response and Restoration Incident Operations, addressed the BP cleanup process on the agency’s website this year.

“Once oil is spilled there are no good outcomes and every response technology involves trade-offs,” he wrote. For example, he noted, using dispersants to decrease the amount of floating oil puts some organisms and environments at risk, but reduces risk potential for others.

“Until we stop using, storing and transporting oil, we have the risk of spills,” he wrote. “The decision to use dispersants or not use dispersants will never be clear cut. Nor will it be done without a lot of discussion of the trade-offs. The many real and heart-felt concerns about potential consequences aren’t dismissed lightly by the responders who have to make tough choices during a spill.”

In 2013, despite scientists’ claims that dispersants are toxic to marine life, BP CEO Bob Dudley defended their use in the cleanup efforts the company funded.

“In hindsight no one believes that that was the wrong thing and it would have been much worse without the use of it,” he said. “I do not believe anybody — anybody with almost common sense — would say waves of black oil washing into the marshes and beaches would have been a better thing, under any circumstances.”

Joye, however, said a person could argue that in the case of Deepwater Horizon, it would have been better to have left the organisms alone.

“Nobody wants to see oiled birds, turtles and dolphins, but the bottom line is that if you disperse that oil, it’s still in the water,” she told The Atlantic. “You feel better, but is it improving the situation? My gut instinct is that I would put my faith in the microbial communities to do their job.”

Last week, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative announced that it will award nearly $38 million to individuals and teams studying the effects of oil, as well as dispursants, on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and public health.
Source: The Huffington Post

Chibuisi Ikwuagwu's Blog

A new study reveals that damage to coral resulting from the massive 2010 BP oil spill in the US Gulf of Mexico is worse than previously thought, according to reports.
The study, which will be published in the oceanography journal Deep-Sea Research, found sick and dying corals in the Pinnacles, an outcropping on the Continental Shelf that is home to a rich, deep-water environment about 70 miles (113 kilometres) off the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi.

Researchers from Florida State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explored the Pinnacles using remotely operated submarines to locate more than 400 colonies of injured coral in 2011,according to wire service Associated Press

The coral was covered in a “scum” of dead tissue and oily residue, while some showed signs of more severe damage, such as bare skeletons and missing branches.

The damage from the spill could be even greater, AP reported.

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Tsunami Aftermath: The Urato Islands Rebuild

THE URATO ISLANDS, near the coast of Japan, rebuilds after the Tsunami disaster:1443642236

Yoshimasa Koizumi looks at his fishing equipment on Katsurashima Island. He has never used it, having moved to the island one day before last year's deadly tsunami.
The Urato Islands. (pop: 300). Courtesy of: CNN

Actions were organized by sustainability researchers in the Satoyama Initiative to discuss rebuilding and revitalization of the Urato Islands after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on the 11th of March 2011.  These sessions were key turning points for the rebuilding process of the Urato Islands.  Two dialogues were held, the first in 2012 and the second in 2014.

Strong collaboration between local communities and external stakeholders was the key for an effective community dialogue session. commitment as was organised follow up from several key Universities, and civil society organisations.

The Urato Islands are four islands that are inhabited by several hundred people located near the small city of Shiogama, in Miyagi prefecture, on the north-eastern coast of Japan.   The population of these islands lived from small-scale agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture (oysters and seaweed) that were intertwined and supported the rich and unique ecosystems of the islands.dsc_2248

The 2011 tsunami swept over much of the islands, destroying fishing boats, houses and oyster beds, disrupting people, their tools and the produce land and seascape that people had spent centuries creating.  The people in Urato are making heroic efforts to rebuild their livelihoods, but the tsunami revealed underlying problems that they share with much of rural Japan:depopulation, ageing populations and a lack of people to take over business.  The combination of the Tsunami with these slow changes has made many people worried about whether they can can rebuild their communities in a sustainable way.

Clearing and rebuilding efforts continue on Katsurashima Island off the coast of Miyagi prefecture.
The Urato Islands (pop. 300) Courtesy of CNN

The community dialogue sessions with local and external stakeholders in the Urato Island helped to bring new energy to the islanders, over come the damages they got, and embrace new ways of rebuilding their community that used both their own resources and their connections with the outside world.  These dialogues focussed on how to use ecosystem services to enhance post-disaster rebuilding and restoration of the Islands, and how to enable communities to enhance their cultural and management practices to sustain both people and ecosystems.   The dialogue helped align the efforts long-time residents and newer arrivals as well as locally focussed restoration efforts and externally oriented efforts to create new types of markets and support among the consumers of Urato’s fish and shellfish.  The dialogue help unite these local actors, such as fishermen, schools and local organisations, and connect with external stakeholders such as customers, ministry of the environment, NGOs, and universities, to create a shared vision.

This approach of organising community dialogue sessions together with local and external stakeholders can be applicable to any other part of rural areas in Japan struggling with rebuilding and revitalisation of the communities not only for the communities affected by natural disaster, but also for communities who would like to revitalise the area respecting socio-ecological system.  A weakness of this type of approach is the limited number of people that can be involved in a dialogue process.  Similar approaches to community dialogues could be applied in other areas, and the processes initiated by such dialogues may be able to reorient people and societies world-view in new directions.   · in Social-Ecological Seeds, Food system,Integrated social-environmental, community. · 地図

Underwater | Pterois Volitans

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Courtesy of edaccessible.com
Man underwater swims in a colorful coral reef with tropical fish
Courtesy of: https://twitter.com/Randallr75

Underwater | Reprobate

Record breaking HEAT is Resulting Wildfire Damage & Destruction

Western Wildfires Update: Record $243 Million Spent Battling Forest Fires Last Week. Courtesy of: http://www.weather.com.   
Good News in Forecast for Firefighters in Northwest

Cooler and wetter weather in the Northwest will be good news for those fighting several wildfires in the region.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack revealed Thursday a record $243 million was spent last week combatting wildfires raging around the country.

The U.S. Forest Service has been forced to borrow funds from forest restoration work, normally used to reduce the risk of wildfires, as it has already spent all the money allotted by Congress for its 12-month budget. Vilsack noted this has happened the past six of 10 years.

Much to his chagrin, Vilsack said the agency will likely be forced to borrow more funds and continue to expect spending $200 million a week battling the blazes.

(MORE: Air Quality Worse in Some Northwestern Towns Than Beijing)

Firefighters have been making more gains on two massive wildfires burning in north-central Washington.

As of late Thursday night, the Okanogan Complex was 60 percent contained but has grown to nearly 150,000 acres. Last week, it became the largest wildfire in state history.

Officials are managing the complex of fires as one fire, including the Chelan Complex. That particular fire was 70 percent contained and had burned more than 93,000 acres as of Thursday night.

Nearly 2,000 firefighters are working on the two big fire complexes that have burned more than 140 residences. Many other residents are still under evacuation notices.

Fire officials say they are both building lines around the fires and mopping up inside their borders.

Wildfires have taken their toll on the Western landscape this year. They’ve reduced entire neighborhoods to ash, forced thousands to evacuate and required a nonstop battle from countless firefighters, some who have come from other countries to help.

And there’s no indication that fire season is letting up at all.

More than 8.2 million acres have burned in U.S. wildfires this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. That’s well above the 10-year average of about 5.57 million acres through Sept. 2. As the Washington Post notes, that’s larger than the total area of Maryland.

There has also been a human toll during this fire season. Five firefighters have been killed in the line of duty this year, according to Wildfire Today. A year ago, there were 10 wildfire-related firefighter deaths, NIFC reported.

There are currently dozens of large wildfires burning across the West; here’s an update on a few of them.

California

A massive Butte fire burned more than 50,000 acres across the counties of Amador and Calaveras near Sacramento.

The blaze has already destroyed 6 structures and was only 10% contained as of September 11. Evacuations were ordered for both counties and over 1,500 fire personnel were dispatched to fight the growing fire.

Officials reported that the steep topography in the area mixed with harsh weather conditions is making the fire grow at an unprecedented rate.

Oregon

Firefighters battling a destructive wildfire near John Day are allowing people who have been evacuated for weeks to return to their homes.

The last evacuation alerts were lifted Wednesday, but residents in several neighborhoods were told to be ready to leave on short notice.

The fire has destroyed 43 homes and burned more than 165 square miles. It is 52 percent contained.

Crews focused Wednesday on containing spot fires that broke out beyond the containment lines during a period of hotter temperatures and lower humidity Tuesday. They were hopeful that cooler, more humid conditions Wednesday would allow firefighters to control the flames and strengthen their containment lines.

Idaho

Fire crews are aggressively working to prevent flames from expanding on a 3-week-old blaze in west-central Idaho that has already burned 143 square miles of dry timber.

More than 900 firefighters are battling the fire, but it was only 30 percent contained. It’s burning in terrain surrounded by large amounts of unburned fuel.

Crews focused their efforts Wednesday on protecting structures along the Salmon River corridor, and rafters were still being stopped and evacuated before entering the fire perimeter.

In northern Idaho, flames crept overnight as close as a mile and a half to the historic Fenn Ranger Station, causing mandatory evacuations.

Idaho currently has 17 large fires, the most in the nation, the National Interagency Fire Center says.

Montana

A firefighter working to battle a wildfire north of Helena has been hospitalized after an ATV crash.

The Helena Independent Record reports that the injured man was adjusting hoses in steep terrain Wednesday at the time of the accident. A nearby firefighter/EMT helped with emergency care before the man was taken to a medical facility in Helena.

A Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation spokeswoman declined to comment on how the accident occurred. Officials have not released the injured man’s name.

By Associated Press
Published Sep 11 2015 06:18 PM EDT
via: weather.com
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https://ckelbert.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/child-on-oceanside/

I don’t know if you’re hurting t-day.
E’en so, His love can light the way.
We’re each on our own unique pathway.

Some are so broken they’ve no will to stay.
Don’t highlight the faults of others you see.
They have their own reasons for defeat.

Just allow Him to, help, guide – strengthen you.
You’ll find He’ll restore and mend too.
His love and light is for receiving my friend. 

We’re all just empty vessels He longs to fill.————————————————————

Child on Oceanside:

Here is a lad whose cast in pales.

His eyes breath the ocean breeze.

The whim and the wave tailgates.

———–

The depth of the sea emeralds he.

He takes steps to dive in just yet.

Withal, his weak limbs only float.

———-

Song’s of seagulls speak his cord.

100_2810
https://ckelbert.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/death-to-life-2/

As he fingers moment to moment.

Day to day footprints lye in sand.

He Weeps……

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