Sunday, July 14, 2013

Terry Baurley Dock Investigations

Sometimes it takes time and keen observation to notice changes within an environment, with the powers of observation when looking very closely things that your expect to see might not be there and things that should be there are not. As a species when humans interact with their environment it is sometimes easy to miss the consequences of actions and interactions. Our harbors, oceans and rivers not only are challenged by pollution and the effects of pesticides and chemicals. But also a more significant threat to native species is intentional or unintentional species that are introduced from other parts of the world into an eco system that has no counterbalance ability. The problem becomes when we introduce something that’s not native to environment if there is no natural predator that will keep the population in check or a specific series of weather conditions soil or climate that my control the species we risk the possibility of wiping out native species. The similar analogy would be when Europeans first arrived in the New World and brought diseases that there was no immunity for that wiped out a significant portion of the Native American population.
Part of the problem exists because consequences cannot be foreseen. Having spent a significant portion of time on freshwater rivers and lakes you become a very aware of changes within the environment and how things change from year to year decade to decade and century to century. The invasive species that I am most familiar with in freshwater is milfoil, that the freshwater lakes and rivers there’s been a tremendous effort in the past several years to educate, control and eradicate the spread of this non-native species there was introduced into our eco system in New England. The reason that milfoil is so deadly is that it grows rapidly depletes all the oxygen from the environment and there are tremendous fish kills because it. Part of how this happens is by organism and a plant hitchhiking rides on boats and ships and are carried to new environments. Another example of an invasive species is Asian carp in the Great Lakes the problem is becoming so prevalent that native species of fish that have survived centuries are struggling to adapt to a new threat.
One of the things that we saw today that I wasn’t expecting was invasive species, I had been aware of the green crab having been introduced into the environment and how the nat. But was unaware of the extent of the problem within the ocean and harbors, What I realized today is that what we saw yesterday at the boat slip and today at the two different docs that we visited with that things have changed their no invasive species inhabiting Boston harbor the extent of the problem seems to be prevalent from the Marriott at long wharf on the river walk and as far as the Barking Crab in South Boston. The interesting part is that looking at the guidebook I thought I was seeing native species and I realize now was that there was some native species that are struggling to survive because of an invasive species. It wasn’t until I consulted the MIT Sea Grant hitchhiker’s website that I realize the extent. What we observed was close to the Club Tunicate, Green fleece algae, Red Alge, green crabs, and the possible addition of Asian Isopod, northern rock barnacles, Tunicate, Star Tunicate and “mystery” Tunicate.

While I was researching the blue mussel I came across a very interesting article about how the Asian shore crab was introduced approximately 15 years ago and how the muscles had no defense. But in 2006 it was shown that mussels have evolved in an effort to survive that somehow managed to thicken their shells. This discovery was by Aaren Freeman and James Breyer at the University of New Hampshire. This is good news the species can develop defenses, and something that I did not anticipate.

In conclusion the concerns of the oyster farm, MIT, BU and the pew trust are well grounded. In the Pew trust oceans commission article it outlines how serious the problem is and how often invasive species are being introduced into the environment. It may take a lawsuit before there are significant changes in the ballast emptying procedures of all ships entering US waters. But it may be a very necessary step in order to protect US fisheries and shellfish farms. There needs to be significant changes in education and enforcement and agricultural importation.

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