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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

While I was gone

Well, we here at Water Blogged are back from a great low-cost west coast vacation and have only an unpacked backpack of dirty clothes, a memory card with hundreds of photos, and a car of declining health to show for it. Also, I have a hard-earned FYI: you may think it would be faster and easier to cross the border late at night due to a lack of crowds, but brother, let me tell you: you do not want to be the only source of entertainment for a group of border agents working the graveyard shift.

"And here's where I told him that importing more than 1 kg of cantaloupe
put him in violation of Subsection 31.1a of the 'Enemies of the State" Act!'"

And now WB returns to face a week's accumulation of ocean-related developments:

   - Our use of antidepressants has the potential to alter the behavior of shrimp: A study from the University of Portsmouth found that shrimp exposed to antidepressants in seawater demonstrated an increased affinity for light, which is likely to increase their predation risk. The troubling implication is that increasing concentrations of prescription antidepressants in coastal waters, which occurs when people excrete the chemicals after willingly ingesting them, may have unintended consequences for species and marine food webs.

  - Think that the species of no commercial value that are caught as bycatch in Canada's fisheries aren't important? Well, I would bet that nobody cared much about the bearded goby back when its home, the Benguela ecosystem, was home to huge fisheries. However, this small and unusually tough fish may now be carrying the tattered, jellyfish-dominated remnants of that once-bountiful ecosystem on its tiny back. Just one more reminder that a species without obvious economic or ecological importance at one point in time may become very important at another time.

  - In a development that may be just one more routine step in our funereal shuffle towards a new climatic reality, Arctic sea ice coverage was the lowest for any June on record.

- Under the file "sadly predictable", we can put the news that scientists are already reporting possible signs of a rearrangement of the Gulf food web, with important forage species dying and oil-metabolizing bacteria thriving.

  -  And in one that I missed when it came out: open net pen salmon farms in Chile have such widespread and nasty ecological impacts that scientists who set out to research whale communication instead end up writing about the farms' impacts.

Even with all of these contenders, however, the title of Worst News of the Past Week has to go to the Canadian government and their recently released draft standards for 'organic' aquaculture. There is a lot to write about this subject and I'm going to have to leave it for tomorrow, but stay tuned because there's a lot to disparage and it should be fun!

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