Monday, August 19, 2019

Endangered Species Act - ENDANGERED!

Endangered Species Act Now Endangered


by Mel Edie


In 1973, the United States introduced the Endangered Species Act. This incredibly important legislation has served to conserve hundreds of threatened and endangered species as well as their habitats. Among the requirements to ensure successful protection include federal agencies working with environmental government services and the prohibition of "taking" (importing, exporting, etc) any of the listed species. To date, the Act protects over 1,600 domestic plant and animal species and has been 99% successful. However, under the Trump Administration, the strongest law protecting our biodiversity may itself be in danger. 

                        
1- Bald Eagle is one of the species negatively impacted by these policy changes.

To read more about the Endangered Species Act, follow this link:  https://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/

            This week, President Trump and the U.S. Department of Interior announced plans for significant cuts to the application of the Endangered Species Act. Not only does the public strongly support the law, but so do lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum, so changes have been slow or altogether impossible. Until now. The President has proposed modifications to the bill that would open previously preserved lands to mining, oil and coal drilling, and urbanization. Additionally, if companies believe that they will lose revenue because due to the restriction of using protected habitat, endangered species may be removed to allow businesses to move in. 

2- Rates of deforestation will increase as businesses move into protected areas.
                        
The list of catastrophic changes goes on, and you can read more about them here: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/08/whats-changing-about-endangered-species-act-enforcement-and-what-it-means/


            
3- Polar bears are the verge of becoming extinct if these policy changes are implemented.

Hopefully, these changes can be delayed from taking off. To help, write letters supporting the Endangered Species Act to your local politicians! Don’t support businesses who disregard wildlife by selling wildlife products or destroying their habitat! What every individual does to fight these bill changes does matter! 

Encourage your friends and family to do the same. Each one of us can make a huge impact. And, as always, be aware of your personal impact on the environment around you and globally. Fight to keep the Endangered Species Act strong to conserve all the listed species and to support increased biodiversity on our Mother Earth.


Photos:

Friday, August 16, 2019

Terrapin Traverser

The Terrapin Traverser 


by Brendan McCarthy

            This summer, I worked on repairing a hand-made wooden prawn boat as my main project for NECWA. I am, in no way, shape, or form, an experienced carpenter. As a result, I was very much outside of my comfort zone throughout the entire endeavor. I consulted many boat repair shops and various other people in the field about how to properly fix up a boat that was not capable of floating.
The Terrapin Traverser right side up and freshly scrubbed.
            After many consultations, I began to gather the various materials required of me, including a sander, sandpaper, epoxy, resin, boat paint, etc. I was excited to take on a new challenge, something very outside my comfort zone. I was presented with a pristine opportunity to dive into a field of work that I had no previous knowledge of. This allowed me to grow as an intellectual and as a competent worker.
Brendan (red shirt) and Jacob (green shirt) sanding the bottom of the boat. 
The first step was to sand down the entire bottom of the boat. Next we had to caulk all the gaps between the wood. After the caulk dried, we had to sand the bottom of the boat once more. Then we applied fiberglass to the areas we had caulk and to areas that were cracked or weakened after we had applied one coat of epoxy. Then four more coats of epoxy and finally painted our finished product. 
The painted bottom of the boat. 
            The project allowed me to become better rounded, and eventually when the boat was put in the water, it did indeed float. Many thanks to AJ’S Boat Repair Shop for allowing us to house our boat by their ramp! With the guidance of various other people in the organization, YouTube videos, and a passionate team of people helping me with the work, we got it done.

Brendan with the Terrapin Traverser at AJ's Boat Co.
Catching terrapins while balancing on a boat definitely presents a skillset for us to further develop, but as time progresses, so will out ability to catch these animals to further our research and conservation efforts. Now instead of just flying for team terrapin, we can float too.

Ready to make our mark out on the water. Go NECWA!
Videos that provided me with ideas of how to work on the boat and the best way to approach it:
Sanding wooden small boat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsKh7qSCX7Y
Applying an epoxy coating to a wooden boat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwsG-BA2bU0
Wooden Boat Revival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZIM2ZJBEgs

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Keystone Species: What They Are and Why You Should Care

Keystone Species: What They Are and Why You Should Care

By NECWA Intern Lydia Myers


A keystone species is any organism that is irreplaceable in its ecosystem.  These animals, plants, fungi, and other life forms significantly influence their surroundings and the number of other members of their food webs.  A defining feature of keystone species is that though they have a large impact, they’re not incredibly abundant.  Sea otters, African elephants, fig trees and hummingbirds are all examples of keystone species.

A kelp forest with otters, and without https://seaotters.com/2013/05/why-are-sea-otters-important-no-sea-otters-no-kelp-forests/

Keystone species are often predators, not prey species.  Their job is to keep other species in check and maintain balance in the ecosystem. Sea otters prey on sea urchins in kelp forests.  Without this interaction, the kelp forests would be completely diminished by the sea urchins.  African elephants, on the other hand, create more grazing land in the savannahs, which increases the quantity and type of grazing animals that can live there, including gazelles, etc. .  African elephants help to promote biodiversity in their environment, rather than keeping other populations in check.

African Elephants in the savannah https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/keystone-species/

Fig trees and hummingbirds represent more subtle types of keystone species.  Fig trees, while certainly not predators, help to maintain their ecosystems by providing resources in the form of food, housing and building materials for other birds as well as mammals.  Without the constant supply of resources, these dependent species would struggle to sustain their populations.  Hummingbirds, like bees, are pollinators that we and other species heavily rely on. Hummingbirds work as a link to maintain plant populations that help support other populations of animals.

In the New England region, copepods are a major primary producer and source of energy for fish, birds and marine mammals.  Basking sharks and North Atlantic right whales consume copepods as filter feeders.  Small fish eat copepods and are consumed by larger fish or by birds.  Crabs and shrimp also feed on these tiny organisms.

Copepods https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/copepod/about/what-n-why.html

Keystone species, despite their importance to the environment and their own ecosystems, are not immune to the threats that the rest of the natural world faces.  Climate change and human action is especially detrimental when it encroaches on the lives of these species because they uphold many other species.  This makes conservation efforts and general respect for plants and animals imperative, as the collapse of one species means the collapse of many.

For more information and further reading, use the following websites:

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/keystone-species/
https://web.utk.edu/~mnunez/Keystones%20Nunez%20Dimarco.pdf
https://www.britannica.com/science/keystone-species
https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/keystone-species-15786127
https://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/copepod/about/what-n-why.html