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Entries in pollution (51)

Wednesday
Sep212016

More Intersex Bass Found--- This Time in Illinois

The more waters that scientists investigate, the more intersex bass they find. Latest discovery is in the Des Plaines River, about 125 miles downstream from here.

In dissecting 51 male largemouth bass, researchers from the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) found that 21 had grown oocytes, or female eggs, in their testicular tissue.

“Long-term surveys conducted by the INHS in this region have shown big increases in largemouth bass over the past 40 years since the implementation of the Clean Water Act,” said fisheries biologist Mark Fritts. “It's a dichotomy here because we're seeing a population that has increased dramatically, but we're also seeing this potential problem rising.”

But this part of the river is far from pollution free. Treated sewage from Chicago flows into this area from the Chicago sanitary and Ship Canal. In a 2016 water quality report, the Illinois Protection Agency found 12 out of the 14 segments of the river tested were impaired by contaminants such a fecal bacteria and toxic industrial chemicals.

Pollution seems to be the common thread in other discoveries of intersex bass, both from municipal sewage and agricultural runoff. Specifics are elusive, except for the belief that chemicals acting as "endocrine disruptors" are causing the mutations.  They distort functions that regulate hormones and the reproductive system.

"This is an emerging field of research. We're kind of on the tip of the iceberg," Fritts said. "There are still a lot more questions than answers."

Starting in 2003, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found male smallmouth and largemouth bass with immature eggs in several areas of the Potomac River. Then they noted intersex smallmouth and white suckers at 16 sites in the Delaware, Ohio, and Susquehanna Rivers in Pennsylvania.  At one site near Hershey, Pa., 100 percent of male bass sampled had eggs.

Of these findings, USGS scientist Vicki Blazer said, "We keep seeing a correlation with the percent of agriculture in the watershed where we conduct a study."

Additionally, studies conducted from 1995 to 2004, revealed  intersex bass in the Apalachicola, Savannah, and Pee Dee River basins of the Southeast.

Just last year, meanwhile, two federal agencies found significant numbers of male bass were intersex in waters of or near National Wildlife Refuges in the Northeast. Eighty-five percent of male smallmouths and 27 percent of male largemouths tested positive, according to USGS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

Thursday
Jul282016

Tournament Winnings Help Bass Pro Whitmire Provide Clean Water for Those in Need

Bruce Whitmire, father of five, grandfather of nine and U.S. Air Force veteran, has one purpose when it comes to fishing -- and it’s not collecting trophies. Whitmire has dedicated his life and his fishing career to raise money to provide clean, safe water for people in East Africa.

Twenty-two years ago, Whitmire and his wife traveled to East Africa on several mission trips. That's when he realized how many families relied on women and children to travel many miles carrying  buckets on their heads so that they could have water. The bucket that is supposed to bring health and life to families, however, is often the bucket that also brings disease and death, because that water often is contaminated.

This reality was a shock to Whitmire, who grew up in East Texas.

“When you see children sick and hurting from water-related diseases and you know how to help them, you must invest yourself in the remedy of their suffering,” Whitmire said.

And that’s exactly where his journey began.

In 2009, Whitmire founded Global Water Partners, a non-profit organization that provides clean, safe water to people in need living in developing countries. That water is provided by drilling wells, at no cost, for millions of people living in the underprivileged areas throughout East Africa.

The organization, which drills wells, is funded by individual and corporate donations, as well as the profits Whitmire receives from fishing the B.A.S.S. Open circuit and Fishers of Men tournaments. He chose fishing as the vehicle for fundraising because of his pure passion of the sport.

Today, Whitmire tells the Global Water Partners story before each tournament and during weigh-ins.

 He is aided in his mission by Mercury, one of his sponsors.  

“I have fished all over the USA and I can always count on my Mercury Pro XS to work hard, sip fuel, produce the power to get me out of the hole, and the speed to get me there and back on time,” Whitmire said.

“Mercury plays a vital role in providing clean water to the people who need it most."

Thursday
Jul212016

Speak Out to Help Stop Destruction of Florida Coastal Fisheries

Florida's coastal fisheries are being destroyed, as the Everglades and Florida Bay are starving for water.

Fed by polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee, toxic blue-green algae are coating Florida’s east and west coasts, causing fish kills and closing businesses.

This most recent crisis in South Florida reinforces the need to clean and send the water south, as it would naturally flow, to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay that are starving for freshwater.

The State of Florida and the Army Corps of Engineers need to initiate planning this year for water storage, treatment, and flow south of the lake, through the Everglades Agricultural Area.

Edit and send this message to Florida's Governor Scott for a comprehensive evaluation of water storage needs that could benefit the Everglades.

Ten things to know about Florida's harmful algae blooms

 1. What It Is and Where It Came From 

The algae is a cyanobacteria found in Lake Okeechobee, which comes from the runoff containing human waste and fertilizers from nearby farms and ordinary neighborhoods, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as other nutrients in the polluted runoff, can act like fertilizer for the algae, creating large and extensive blooms. 

2. Eager Developers Changed Florida's Waterways

In an attempt to spur the economy years ago, Florida land developers and government officials broke up the natural flow of the state's rivers, Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades to redirect water south from central Florida, according to the Associated Press. The economy did grow as the land was reclaimed from the Everglades for development, but now the unnatural water flow has periodically left rivers and lagoons so toxic with HAB that fish die off, residents become ill and tourists are turned off.

3. The Risks to Humans

If ingested, water contaminated with toxic cyanobacteria can cause nausea, vomiting and, in severe cases, acute liver failure, according to Florida's FWCC. While there have been no documented cases of anyone becoming ill from drinking water containing these toxins, it remains a concern. The Centers for Disease Control says coming in direct contact with the algae can cause a rash and some research indicates a link between long-term inhalation of toxic algae fumes and neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

*   *   *   *

'This is our Deep Water Horizon!' 

"It's time the federal and state government understand how God-awful the problem is here," said Martin County Commissioner Doug Smith, referencing the 2010 oil spill that devastated wildlife along the Gulf of Mexico. 

When the algae blooms die, they release toxins that cause rashes and could endanger wildlife.
The foul-smelling problem - which has closed beaches along the Treasure Coast - stems in part from stopgap measures put in place by the feds.

To preserve the aging earthen dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers routinely releases water to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.

After floods devastated the area around the lake in the wake of a massive 1928 hurricane that killed 2,500 people, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began regulating lake water levels to minimise the risk of a dike breach.

Now, local officials are citing the lake discharges as the cause of the spreading blooms - although the South Florida Water Management District said that septic tanks and storm water runoff can also play a role

This season's high temperatures and heavy rainfall have only exacerbated the problem.


Florida algae and politics stink like sh . . . ugar

With a state of emergency covering four Florida counties, the stench and slime from toxic blue-green algae blooms in the state are covering the international media. It’s not a sweet sight, but it smells conspicuously like sugar. Big Sugar, to be exact.

Environmental scientists and experts tirelessly point to agricultural pollution and climate change as major contributors to the monster algae epidemic, but, incredulously, Florida’s political leaders just haven’t figured it out.

*    *    *    *

Eight manatee deaths reported in Florida lagoon plagued by algae

 

Thursday
Jul142016

Will Sugar-Supported Politicians Help or Hinder Restoration of Coastal Waters?

Nutrient-rich waters discharged out of Lake Okeechobee continue to foul and degrade Florida's coastal waters to the east and west with algae blooms.

Before the ecosystem was altered by man for our convenience, for development, agriculture, and flood control, high water flowed south to replenish the Everglades and, eventually, Florida Bay.

That's what needs to happen again to save the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee River systems now being destroyed. It also would benefit the Everglades and Florida Bay.

But much of that land to the south is owned by sugar farmers, just as much of the nutrients polluting that water is from those farms.

And many Florida politicians are owned by Big Sugar. For example, U.S. Sugar Corp. is the fourth largest donor to Gov. Rick Scott's political committee.

"The American political system is dominated by big money, and big money talks," said Eric Eikenberg of the Everglades Foundation. "But we are hopeful in this crisis that the governor and other decision makers see through any of that."

Find out more about the politics of this issue here.

Tuesday
Jul052016

Edible Six-Pack Rings Can Help Save Sea Life

Thousands of animals, from small finches to great white sharks, die grisly deaths each year from eating or getting caught in plastic that accumulates in our oceans at an alarming rate. So why not do something to minimize the avalanche of plastic trash and save lives?

Why not edible six-pack rings?

And that's just what SaltWater Brewery in Florida has come up with. Here's what the company says:

"Most plastic beer sixpack rings end up in our oceans and pose a serious threat to wildlife. Together with We Believers, we  designed, tested and prototyped the first ever Edible Six Pack Rings, sixpack packaging, made with byproducts of the beer making process, that instead of killing animals, feeds them. They are also 100% biodegradable and compostable."

Check out the informational video at the company's website. And here's a more in-depth article about the project.

We produce more than 300 million tons of plastic annually. That's equivalent to the combined weight of all adult humans on earth. Nearly half of this we use once and then throw away. In just the first decade of this century, we made more plastic than all the plastic in history up to the year 2000.

Much of it is discarded on land, but is carried by wind, rain, and runoff to the oceans, where it accumulates year after year after year. That's because plastic is so durable that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports "every bit of plastic ever made still exists."

The North Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is twice the size of Texas and growing. It consists mostly of small plastic particles that suspend at or just below the surface, where fish and other animals mistake them for food. Plastic there is more prevalent than real food, like zooplankton, by about 6 to 1, according to scientists.

This is but one of five such convergence zones in our oceans.

Following are some sobering statistics about discarded plastic from the Center on Biological Diversity:

Fish in the North Pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can cause intestinal injury and death and transfers plastic up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals.

Sea turtles also mistake floating plastic garbage for food. While plastic bags are the most commonly ingested item, loggerhead sea turtles have been found with soft plastic, ropes, Styrofoam, and monofilament lines in their stomachs. Ingestion of plastic can lead to blockage in the gut, ulceration, internal perforation and death; even if their organs remain intact, turtles may suffer from false sensations of satiation and slow or halt reproduction.
Hundreds of thousands of seabirds ingest plastic every year. Plastic ingestion reduces the storage volume of the stomach, causing birds to consume less food and ultimately starve. Nearly all Laysan albatross chicks — 97.5 percent — have plastic pieces in their stomachs; their parents feed them plastic particles mistaken for food. Based on the amount of plastic found in seabird stomachs, the amount of garbage in our oceans has rapidly increased in the past 40 years.
Marine mammals ingest and get tangled in plastic. Large amounts of plastic debris have been found in the habitat of endangered Hawaiian monk seals, including in areas that serve as pup nurseries. Entanglement deaths are severely undermining recovery efforts of this seal, which is already on the brink of extinction. Entanglement in plastic debris has also led to injury and mortality in the endangered Steller sea lion, with packing bands the most common entangling material. In 2008 two sperm whales were found stranded along the California coast with large amounts of fishing net scraps, rope and other plastic debris in their stomachs.