Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘bay study’

April 2, 2009

Interview: Penguin pioneer and census taker

Nice piece in the New York Times Science Section this week with Dr. Dee Boersma, who has been studying Magellanic Penguins in Argentina since 1982.

She brings up a story that I hadn’t heard: A Japanese company went straight to the Argentine government in the 1980s and asked permission to collect penguins for the production of goods:

“We’d like a concession to harvest your penguins and turn them into oil, protein and gloves.” There was a public outcry. This was during a military dictatorship when dissidents were being thrown into the ocean from airplanes. And yet people said, “We object to having our penguins harvested.”

Boersma, a University of Washington conservation biologist, has been called the “Jane Goodall of penguins.” Dr. Boersma, 62, has spent 25 years studying penguins on one stretch of beach at Punto Tumbo, in southern Argentina.

As she says: “I’m a kind of census taker of the 200,000 breeding pairs of penguins at Punta Tombo. I track who is at home, who gets to mate, where the penguins go for the meals, their health, their behaviors.”

Read the rest of the story online

February 20, 2008

Planting fish eggs to monitor oil spill

Scientists from Bodega Marine Lab are planting herring eggs this week in parts of San Francisco Bay to monitor the affects on fish from the November 2007 bunker fuel spill.

The eggs are being placed in areas hard hit by the spill: Richardson Bay, Horseshoe Cove near Fort Baker and the north side of Angel Island. The eggs will be studied to see what sort of pollution shows up in the embryos.

The spill dumped over 50,000 gallons of the toxic crude into the San Francisco Bay four months ago when the Cosco Busan container ship struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in heavy fog. Only 44% of the oil has been recovered. At least 2,500 birds died in the spill.

See: Marin IJ story: Herring roe will help judge spill’s impact

December 14, 2007

Banning bunker fuel: Tread lightly expert says

An environmental chemist looking into the rush to ban the use of bunker fuel on ships, says the alternatives, especially diesel can be harder to cleanup. Christopher Reddy’s Open Forum piece in the San Francisco Chronicle and is worth a careful read:

“…Bunker oil is highly viscous, sticky, and floats. Bunker oil spills are visually obvious but the very nature of this product allows it to be cleaned up easier than diesel fuel. It can be boomed, skimmed and oil-covered objects along shorelines, often called dirty bathtub rings, can be removed. Diesel fuel is less viscous and harder to contain and recover. Once in the water, diesel insinuates itself into the lifecycles of plants and animals. Toxicity is always difficult to define, but in a relative manner, diesel fuel is significantly more lethal than bunker fuel.

Pure vegetable fuels and biodiesel are attractive alternatives but are not perfect. One marine spill of vegetable oil in Europe left behind a polymerized residue that one scientist argued was more persistent than petroleum fuels. Another spill of vegetable oil in Canada resulted in a large kill of birds. Biodiesel is used to formulate a range of mixtures from B2 (2 percent biodiesel mixed with 98 percent petroleum diesel) to B100 (100 percent biodiesel). While the biocomponent of biodiesel mixtures is much safer and less persistent in the environment, anything less than B100 will contain petroleum diesel with the same negative attributes…”

Read onward