Toxic water

Posted by Ken Campbell December 13, 2009 0 Comment 870 views

Maybe, just maybe the planet wants to get rid of us.

According to the front page of the Sunday paper, October and November saw a massive algae bloom off the Northwest coast that killed up to 10,000 birds (“at least 10,000 birds,” in another article I found online.) The single-cell, saltwater algae species responsible for the mayhem is a toxic little sucker called Akashiwo sanguinea; the orgy of avian killing has possible consequences for human existence as well.

The algae gets whipped into a froth in the surf zone, and the result is a thick foam that covers birds and, apparently, other things too.

Environmental issues are tricky, because at some point, they turn into political issues, and there’s already way too much noise going on in that department. When the subject turns to politics, it is inevitable that any further discussion will generate substantially more heat than light. What caught my attention was this little nugget: Surfers and kayakers who rode through the foam near Westport, Grays Harbor County, complained of sinus problems and a lingering loss of taste and smell. Well, just great.

Scientists aren’t sure what caused this bloom, or the other ones that preceded it. Which should give all of us pause, regardless of our individual political bent. As Julia Parrish, a professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the U-Dub, says in the piece, “It’s definitely a warning sign of something. We don’t know what.”

If she doesn’t have a handle on it, there’s likely not much hope for me.

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