Thursday, January 14, 2010
2114 Miles Traveled
So I finally was successful and selected an individual project. I will be examining the health dangers created by human interaction with the environment and the steps taken to either solve or promote awareness of these problems. The two that I have identified thus far I’ve already written about, but I’ll reiterate them here. First, near our house, there is a creek that feeds into the bay contains sewage run-off, and there is a large sign that warns visitors not to eat the shellfish from the area. A large red and orange microbial mat has formed in the area. Second, many dogs and owners went for hikes in the wetlands. The dogs left little… gifts… along all of the trails. A sign near the trailhead warned owners that the dog poop contaminates the water and poses health dangers for the local wildlife (it didn’t say whether humans are included in local wildlife). The sign was all but covered in feces; it was clear that owners did not pay attention to the warning. Luckily, water that is drawn from natural sources is filtered before it reaches our tap. In places where the filtration infrastructure is less developed, this might be a problem for the human water source.
Today we went to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fishery laboratories. From 10-12:30 and from 1-4:30, we were given lectures by various researches at the labs. The talks that stood out the most were about under-ice diving, the impact of climate change on marine mammals (one presenter said that the best way to get the general public on board with preventing climate change is by showing them pictures of fuzzy cute seals), sampling of near-shore fish, an analysis of the impact of climate change on evolution, and a study of the habitats of golden and red king crabs. I will spare you the details, but the most interesting things presented were 1) the pictures of the under-ice diving 2) the proposal that climate change is happening so fast that evolution won’t be able to keep up (also known as extinction)3) the observation that in ancient (or older) ice columns, there is a high prevalence of phytoplankton (the first-order producers), whereas the newer ice columns contain low levels of phytoplankton.
Four lectures were given before lunch, and after lunch, we took a brief tour of the laboratories. The wet laboratories where the live samples were kept were by far the most interesting part. There was an entire tank filled with starfish and sea cucumbers. Sea cucumbers are some of my favorite marine animals. (I have to say, the room filled with fridges was the least interesting). We went back to the conference room for three more lectures. At the end of the lectures, the power went out and apparently the conference center was lowest on the list for emergency generator energy. The last two speakers presented in the dark. Unfortunately, this also meant that we were unable to play with the globe with the different satellite images projected on it. We left the NOAA labs around 4:45.
WE LEAVE FOR MAUI TOMORROW!!! I never thought I would be so excited to see sunshine and sand and warm water. Also… those six-person condos are looking pretty nice in comparison to our cabin, which seems to get smaller every day. I’ll update you on the new balmy biome soon!