This morning USIA got a visit from a friend and occasional business partner who just arrived in the Pacific Northwest from Southern California. His report was bleak. He talked about how residents down there were bracing for a long, hot summer. The years of drought have taken their toll, and now real measures are being implemented to restrict water consumption. This is only one thread in the overall arching story that is the state of the environment today. Drought. Climate change. Ocean acidification. Rampant pollution. Overfishing. We are facing a plethora of problems, and it seems no matter what we do, things are getting worse. Sometimes mankind doesn’t have the answers. Sometimes it takes a higher power to fix things. Sometimes it takes nature to do the trick. Here are some amazing examples of nature taking over and fixing a problem that man may or may not have caused.
Hungry pelicans credited with gobbling thousands of goldfish infesting Boulder Lake
It was only a few days earlier when the world learned of a unique type of invasive species problem. It seems as if some neglectful pet owners had grown weary of caring for their pet goldfish. Instead of finding new forever homes for them, the thoughtless people dumped the fish into the lakes around Boulder, Colorado. Being a non-native species, the goldfish should have died, but a strange thing occurred. They thrived to the point of being a nuisance. An estimated 3 to 4 thousand of the slippery suckers were counted recently. Wildlife officials were already making plans to cull the fish with electro-shocks, but nature beat them to it. Pelicans, specifically. The big-billed birds swooped in and ate up the fish, taking care of the problem and receiving a feast in return.
Sharks, grouper learn to prey on lionfish
Lionfish are a tremendous problem in the waters off Florida. Since they are not indigenous to the region, they have no natural predators. With no predators, the lionfish had free reign to consume all of the smaller reef fish at rates totally unsustainable for the environment. Because people consider the predators enemy number one, divers have been culling them as fast as they could catch them. But it hasn’t been fast enough. Fortunately, nature has decided to lend a hand. Larger predator fish, namely grouper and nurse sharks, have started catching and eating them. That in and of itself is amazing. What’s even more interesting is that the grouper and sharks seem to have learned to catch lionfish from the divers. Very cool.
Chernobyl: A Case Study in Phytoremediation
In 1986, the world was shaken to its core when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant suffered a massive explosion that spread deadly radiation over 100 miles. Families were evacuated. Towns were moved. To this day there is still an exclusion zone in place. Ever since the accident, Russian officials have been trying to clean up the radiation. One of the weapons in their arsenal is plants. Using Phytoremediation, a process that in which green plants extract certain elements within their ecosystem, scientists are slowly but surely cleaning up the contaminated soil. Mustard plants have been shown to be particularly effective, as has tobacco and industrial hemp. Who knows, maybe someday mankind will discover how to completely clean up the environmental disasters we have caused using plants as an integral part of the plan.
Sources: dailycamera.com | compasscayman.com | lionfishhunters.org | mhhe.com