Posts by andrea

The Drainage Network

Posted by on Aug 22, 2015 in TopStory | 0 comments

As most have heard on the news lately, there was an immense incident with the EPA and acid mine drainage into the Animas River from Hold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado. There has been confirmation that the mine drainage has reached Utah and is headed for Lake Powell, which is sourced by the Colorado River. This is a significant environmental issue for a variety of reasons, and we know this because acid mine drainage has been studied by numerous scientists, and its affect on aquatic ecosystems have been documented.   Acid mine drainage is a created by a high concentration of waste due to mines that contain dissolved metals reacting with atmospheric oxygen, which was studied by Blowes and his team in 2003. When metals react with oxygen, ferric acid is produced. This chemical creates acidic drainage, which then leaks into pristine streams surrounding the mine and impacts macroinvertebrates. Many organisms are known to be delicate to a change in pH, which can result in mortality if there is a sufficient change. Depending on the concentration, mine drainage does not always create a defined change in pH Numerous studies in Colorado have shown that macroinvertebrate densities and vegetation decrease significantly in streams below a mine site as compared to streams above a mine site.   The problem with the Gold King Mine’s discharge is that is a concentrated toxic body of water that was released at a very high rate.   The acidic waste will likely kill macroinverebrates as well as larger organisms including fish. Communities living within the region are at risk – they can’t bathe or recreate in the waters and can’t drink the water   The discharge rate is at such a high number as compared to studies done in other locations in Colorado, that what may be the result is scary. Therefore, not only will macroinvertebrates be affected, but also so will larger organisms, such as fish. Not only does it affect the organisms within the stream, but it also affects surrounding communities as it is toxic to drink, bathe in, or recreate in. this can cause commercial declines in cities and towns that base their economy off tourism. It would also increase spending, as they have to import quality water for domestic use.   On a global scale, it also affects the ocean! All rivers drain into the ocean- but can the mine drainage subside by the time it reaches the...

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Follow the Waterways

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in TopStory | 0 comments

A recap of my first week at the mountain research station includes the following: Endless bottles of lake water, containing a variety of zooplankton and phytoplankton Awareness of what I deposit into surrounding areas (trash, etc.) A heightened sense of adventure A conquered hike to Rollins/ Corona Pass and the Needle Eye Tunnel (which if you haven’t read about- you should) A continuous love for the ocean- as well as lakes and streams An increase in motivation to combine freshwater and marine science studies in graduate school   With that said, I have decided to show through pictures rather than text, the effects of alpine watersheds on the ocean, and why it is important to keep them clean!   Start:                           ...

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Protecting the Oceans from Two Miles High

Posted by on Jul 29, 2015 in TopStory | 0 comments

Location: Niwot Ridge   For the next few weeks, I am able to have the opportunity to stay in the outskirts of Nederland, Colorado for a 3-week class on lake and stream ecology. How fitting it would be, I thought, to connect experiences from this class to oceanic issues.               Within the first few hours of class we are welcomed by our professor, and continue into lecture for the first hour. Next stop: Niwot Ridge, elevation 3520 meters. An approximate 10 minute off-roading adventure, followed by a 25-30 minute steep, rocky hike, and we have arrived! While eating lunch and admiring the tree-less slopes of the mountains, we discuss groundwater and precipitation. Groundwater moves approximately a foot per day, but can move faster in more geological areas- such as high alpine environments. As it moves downhill toward the lake and stream systems, the water collects nutrients and minerals that it runs over. Therefore, by the time the groundwater gets to the oceanic waterways, it could have collected thousands of feet worth of particles, whether it is nutrients or pollutants. Even these high alpine areas have pollutants, through precipitation. For example, sodium chloride would not be abundant in mountain regions, although there are trace amounts of it found. Why would sodium chloride be present here? Well, precipitation in these areas comes from evaporation from the ocean, hence oceanic nutrients are cycled to the mountains, and vice versa. This enhances the importance of maintaining healthy oceanic and alpine ecosystems! Another nutrient that was found to be in these high elevations was ammonia. This was due to food plots, in which food for a desired animal is plotted on land in order for it to be easier to hunt. It is the same concept as planting crops in association with fertilizer runoff. There are many issues with runoff, mostly concluding that it will lead to eutrophication.     Location: Left Hand Reservoir  ...

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Importance of a Mile High

Posted by on Jul 22, 2015 in TopStory | 0 comments

Many people wonder how inland states can be connected to the ocean environment. In an episode of Diving Deeper, hosted by NOAA, Jeff Adkins explains how the ocean economy is continental-wide. With that said, this week’s blog will consist of a compilation of reasons inland states are connected to the coastline.   Our restaurants serve seafood- that inevitably, comes from the sea. Factor in transportation and CO2 emissions, and you could say we are definitely involved in ocean issues We buy products made in other countries- that export their goods via ships Our agricultural practices release pesticides into our waterways- and “all drains lead to the ocean”- take it from Nemo We pollute just as much driving to the mountains as we would driving to the ocean The filter feeders of the oceans take in the pollutants- and then we eat them- gross. Our activities result in nonpoint source pollution- rainfall and snowmelt moving over and through the ground collect pollutants and deliver them to the oceans- oil, grease, toxic chemicals from urban development, sediment from construction sites, eroding streambanks   Watersheds include the boundaries of streams and moving waters that lead to the ocean. Therefore, the tiny streams you see on your beautiful hike up the mountains high above a mile are included in these watersheds. Streams are ordered numerically, starting with a first order stream, which is characterized as mountainous, tiny streams that include very few fish and many tiny organisms that scrape their food. Once a first order stream and another first order stream join together, they create a second order stream. These streams may seem pristine and beautiful far away from society, but at some point they will join with a polluted, urban river and continue down the pathway to the ocean.   How will you reduce your impact in an inland state? https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/V2NCJ5J...

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Campaigning to Support Our Sharks

Posted by on Jul 17, 2015 in Ocean Ambassadors, TopStory | 0 comments

Ocean Ambassadors is changing their game! We have proudly partnered with loveanimals.org, a campaign to save the sharks!         Loveanimals.org is a crowdfunding campaign, #LoveSharks, launches to encourage shark enthusiasts and others following Shark Week to donate to online fundraising campaigns for nonprofit organizations working with sharks. Crowdfunding websiteLoveAnimals.org is hosting the campaign: http://www.loveanimals.org/lovesharks/   The organizations participating have joined together to raise money for shark conservation. Individual donors can support important projects to: organize a grassroots movement towards stronger shark bycatch rule enforcement, ignite an inland ocean protection movement, protect threatened thresher sharks, and to protest shark finning.   “Thousands of people participate in Shark Week every year,” said Dr Rob Moir of Ocean River Institute. “The #LoveSharks campaign aims to inspire caring people to donate to groups like ours – impacting shark conservation like never before.”   Launched in 2013, LoveAnimals.org helps non-profits raise money for animal projects by hosting free crowdfunding campaigns. Unlike many other crowdfunding websites, LoveAnimals.org is a non-profit organization and takes no administrative fees.   “Most animal nonprofits struggle to raise enough money to cover their operating budgets, let alone fund critically needed projects,” said Sarah Timms, founder of LoveAnimals.org. “LoveAnimals.org is a nonprofit, too, and our mission is to increase giving to animal nonprofits by empowering individuals to help animals.”   Social media is a key component of the campaign, and organizations are asking supporters to share with the hashtag #LoveSharks.   The #LoveSharks campaign can be found here: http://www.loveanimals.org/lovesharks   #LoveSharks benefits: The Ocean River Institute: http://www.oceanriver.org Turtle Island Restoration Network: http://www.seaturtles.org Project AWARE: http://www.projectaware.org/ Colorado Ocean Coalition: http://coloradoocean.org   Media Contact: Jenny Brown, (512) 782-4438, jennyb@loveanimals.org   Follow LoveAnimals.org on Facebook andTwitter.   Launched in 2013, LoveAnimals.org is a free crowdfunding website that helps animal nonprofits connect with donors to raise money for critically needed projects. Learn more at:www.LoveAnimals.org Join the Ocean Ambassadors Certification Program and Lovanimals.org in sharing our love for sharks by...

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