Walking the plank

by david.

First, an editorial.

Rowley, Mass.

Inhale.  Water floods and fills the creeks.  The marsh swells with water and nourishment.  The water is clean.  Cold.  And recharging.  Exhale.  The water ebbs and the creeks empty.  Fish with full bellies and detritus once attached now return to feed the estuary.  Tidal creeks, like the rivers and ditches, are conduits to the marsh like watery bronchial branches bringing needed elements and energy for exchange.  The astronomical rhythm of eons have risen and fallen for a never breathless marsh.

Northern Gulf of Mexico.

Inhale.  A shallow but long breath.  A throat is gummy.  Sticky.  Choking.  Exhale.  Something coating, adherent, blackening remains.  Maybe another breath.  More thickness and the inhalations are shuddering.  How black can lungs be before an estuary of coastal counties and parishes, perishes?

Tick tock.  More than 40 days has the oil geyser-ed from a mile beneath the Gulf.  It’s more than distressing.  And as a project scientist on a saltmarsh project, one can feel a bit impotent watching the blackness coat the marsh.  I mean, we are marsh scientists and what are we to do?  I am angry, but not sure who to be angry at.  After all, I did drive my car today and it certainly does not run on unicorn dreams and leprechaun giggles.

Blackness on the marsh.  The sediments.  The animals.  Choke the plants, lose the organic matter.  Lose the organic matter, lose the sediments.  Lose the sediments, lose the marshes.  Lose the shrimp, the fish, the storm-surge protection, the productivity, the bird habitat.

A new containment dome will be tried to cap the spilling thickness.  I won’t hold my breath, but I wish the marshes could.

Second, an update.

New bodies occupy the marsh.  Konner, the intrepid LSU grad student, has come back again to slog in the marsh.  Austin, a student of algae and Sallie, is leaping with excitement to be in the marsh.  Ujwala, an intern who will be processing chlorophyll a at MBL this summer, joined us for sampling event.  As you can see, she forgot to bring her four-wheel drive.

Birds have been creating new life, but what have we done lately?

Planks, walkways, red carpets!  Cover those ditches and protect those squidgy parts of the marsh.  More planks!  More walkways!  Fill those tanks.  Phosphate needs a-crushin’.  Sweeney’s empty again!  Fill it!  Clubhead?  Fill it!  Sweeney again!  What about chlorophyll a?  Let’s take some.  How much?  270 vials worth!  How about infauna?  Take them too!  Inverts for isotopes?  Snag ’em!  Are we filling an ark?  No, but the water is flooding so grab that next sample.  This slump looks new.  Take it’s picture before it gets away!  What about this science detritus?  Remove it!  The path.  Where’s the path?  Serious path maintenance time.  Build new autosampler platforms?  I thought they were R2-D2s.  Deploy the YSIs!  The LENS project needs the boat.  Charge them 1 Sweeney fill and by golly, make them walk the planks.  Arg!

The marsh.  It needs love.

Me, I need a nap.


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