Eckerd College - Logos Yearbook (St Petersburg, FL)

 - Class of 1986

Page 15 of 68


Eckerd College - Logos Yearbook (St Petersburg, FL) online yearbook collection, 1986 Edition, Page 15 of 68
Page 15 of 68

Eckerd College - Logos Yearbook (St Petersburg, FL) online yearbook collection, 1986 Edition, Page 14
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Page 15 text:

An ecosystem endangered . .. vvill the mangroves survive? Shana Smith, Science Writer A developer gazed lnTo The Florida sunseT, largely Ignoring The sllhoueTTes of The sTubby mangroves In fronT of him. His ThoughTs were on TourIsTs and The lmpacT ThaT This sITe would have on new visiTors To Florida He walked down To The clear, warm waTer and smlled wlTh saTls- facTIon as a school of sand TrouT darTed away and fisherman In The dIsTance played Their lines To hook Them A few weeks laTer The developer reTurned, and wlThln a few monTh's Time The mangroves were cleared and a resorT was buIIT. The sunseTs conTlnued nIghT afTer nIghT, buT The waTer Turned muddy brown and The fish dlsap- peared. The developer was In desperaTion, for he had desTroyed The supporT of The beauTy and life which he had seen ThaT nighT. The mangroves were gone. when one mangrove dles, IT ls decomposed by bacTerIa, fungi, and Tlny animals such as nemaTodes lworms and amphlpods which are collecTively known as deTrlTo- voresl. The parTicles of semldecomposed mangrove are Then elTher consumed by Tlsh or swepT ouT and fllTered Through The seagrass beds ouTlylng The mangrove ToresT, where furTher decomposITlon Takes place. This Is The naTural course of Thlngs. The complex energy Transfer sysTem of The mangroves and The sea- grasses allows for abundanT life However when hundreds of mangrove Trees are uprooTed, The sysTem becomes overwhelmed, and The consequences can be dls- asTrous. Llke coral reefs, mangrove eccv sysTems are fragile buT lmporTanT ones, and Their lmporTance In conserving The naTural beauTy of Florlda's coasTllne musT be rea- llzed. There are four species of man- groves ln Florida. lnTeresTlngly, none of The species are Taxonomi- cally reIaTed To each oTher In any way oTher Than ThaT They all have adapTIons for livlng In a salTy envIronmenT. Thus, mangrove Trees have The ablllTy To llve where oTher Trees cannoT. The mosT Tamlliar mangrove ls maggie, The red man- grove. IT has large, red prop rooTs and is cIosesT To The waTer's edge. The prop rooTs are ofTen encrusTed wlTh barnacles and eaTen away by a small species of plll bug known as Sphagggma Quad: AT a sIIghTIy higher eIevaTlon is n.llLd.a, The black mangrove. IT Is Tound along The souTh seawall of Eckerd College and can be idenTIfied by rooTs which sTIck up around each Tree like dead fingers. The boTTom slde of The leaf of The mangrove Is sparkly and sllver wlTh salT crysTals ThaT are excreTed so ThaT The Tree can survive. Higher up from The waTer and noT as common is Lacemgsa, The whlTe mangrove. AT The highesT Tldal zone Is The knarled, somewhaT raTTy-looking buTTonwood from which drlfTwood is formed. Mangroves In general have no ToleraTlon of cold, and Thus They are found In Tropical locaTlons. Cedar Key, Florida Is an area ThaT can be considered a NTransITIon zoneu beTween mangrove ecosysTems and more Temperafe salTmarsh ecosysTems. Several years ago a freeze kII led off The mangrove Trees In The Cedar Keys. All ThaT was lefT was Their skeleTal remains. The ecological effecT was consider- able, only now are seedlings be- glnnlng To grow. ST. Pefersburg, by conTrasT, ls rich In mangroves, buT They are now experiencing devasTaTIon by oTher, arTIflclal causes Mangroves do many Things To make Florida beauTIful. AlThough noT as sTaTely as The Florida sable palm or as Tall as The AusTrallan plne Tree, They are almosT savagely Tropical and jusT as beauTiTul. An aTTernoon canoe Trlp spenT winding Through Indian Key, rIghT near Eckerd College, Is like a Trlp To The Amazon. The life ThaT is supporTed by mangrove foresTs, from perlwlnkle snails, fiddler crabs, and Tree crabs To raccoons and greaT blue herons, ls boTh rlch and diverse wlThln The Tangled rooTs and leaves Of foremosT lmporTance To humans is ThaT mangroves and The surrounding seagrasses form a habITaT upon which baby fish--The ones ThaT Turn lnTo The blggesT TrouT, redflsh, barracuda, whiTIng, and so on--are dependenT. FurThermore, mangroves keep The waTer clear and proTecTed by Trapping sedlmenTs and polluTanTs In Their rooTs and building up dense Islands and coasTllnes which acT as buffers To sTorms. Thus The developer who builT ThaT resorT did more Than jusT ruin a prime siTe. He desTroyed a llfe source, depIeTed The game flsh In The area, and scarred his smal I parT of The coasT. Produc- TIvITy, boTh In TourisT dollars and In mangrove energy ouTpuT, was depleTed as well. UnforTunaTely, This Is noT an uncommon problem In The unproTecT- ed mangrove slTed in Florida. A large percenTage of mangrove areas are proTecTed by law or by The NaTional Audubon SocIeTyp mosT of These are wlThln The Everglades, where IITe sysTems Thrive undis- Turbed. The governmenT has had a huge lmpacT on mangrove conservaTlon, buT because unproTecTed areas are so vulnerable and because Their desTrucTlon has such an exTreme Toll on The envlronmenT, a problem sTIl I remains. The sunseTs wlll always be beauTlful In Florida. So wlll The land and The coasT, If d6velOpmenT ls planned wlTh care. Mangroves -- The skeleTon of coasTaI FlorIda's appeal, provides boundless life and beauTy. BuT as iT is wlTh anyThing ThaT is alive, a body whose skeleTon is wrenched ouT fal ls aparT and dies. T5

Page 14 text:

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Page 16 text:

Why do fTl3l'll1G m8l'TTl'Tl3lS Stl'3l'lCl tl"lEmS6lVGS? Shana Smith, Science Writer lT is common belief ThaT life came from The sea, The evoluTion of llfe on land is oTTen plcTureC as a single evenT when Thousands of advanced sea-animals crawled ouT of The ocean To walk on land. Of course, evoluTion works much more slowly, and such a develop- menT would Take mil lions of years. Marine mammals have Taken The process a sTep furTher in ThaT Their ancesTors, once land ani- mals, reTurned To The sea and adapTed To a compleTely aquaTlc lifesTyle. For This reason, lT's a dramaTlc sighT To see a boTTle- nosed dolphin lying in a piT of sand aT low Tide or a mass of pygmy sperm whales sTranded on The beach. BoTh of These cases are common along The beaches of Florida, and boTh single and mass sTrandings have been reporTed in a wide varieTy of species. As soon as an animal has sTranded iTselT, if iT is sTill alive, iT is vulnerable, and can be helped or harmed by humans. There are Two basic Types of marine mammal sTrandings ThaT are reporTed: single sTrandings and mass sTrandings. The boTTlenosed dolphin is by far The mosT commonly reporTed in cases of single sTrandings, wiTh over a hundred sTrandings per year being reporTed on The average. The second mosT commonly re- porTed single sTranded animal ls The pygmy sperm whale. OTher species reporTed include The sperm whale, spoTTec dolphin, spinner dolphin, killer whale, false kil- ler whale, piloT whale, and, par- Ticularly ln Florida, The wesT Indian manaTee. lnshore species are ofTen found washed up dead, whereas The offshore species, such as some of The larger whales, are found mosT ofTen alive. The impli- caTlon here is ThaT The lnshore animals, accusTomec Tc Tidal va- rlaTlon and nearby land masses, die from some naTural cause, such as disease or old age, and are 16 Then washed ashore. ln The case of The larger more offshore species, iT is likely ThaT They may Travel inshore accl- denTally, become disorienTed, and Thus beach Themselves. Animals such as The pygmy sperm whale, which depend on Thiamlne- rlch squid ln Their dieT, become Thlamine-deficienT lf They remain lnshore Too long. This resulTs in cardiac problems and a TurTher likelihood of sTranding. Mass sTrandings are a more dramaTlc and mysTerious Type of sTranding. All of The animals involved are offshore species, almosT almosT always sTill alive, and, no maTTer how oTTen They may be seT free, They wil l consTanTly resTrand. There are several Theories ex- plaining The mass sTranding pheno- menon. To explain how deepwaTer animals arose in The shal low wa- Ters in The firsT place, lT is believed ThaT swirling eddies, gyraTlng off of The Loop CurrenT in The Gulf of Mexico and The Gulf STream in The ATlanTic Oceam migraTe Through The deep shipping channels, carrying The offshore species wlTh Them. EvenTually, The eddies break up very close To shore, and aT once The animals become disorienTed and musT choose a direcTion in which To swim.The leader of The whale pod will make This choice, and The oThers in The pod follow him. lf he makes The wrong choice and swims Toward land, The resulT is mass sTrand- ing. The fol low-The-leader concepT ls The likely cause of mosT mass sTrandings. If The leader is af- TllcTed wlTh ear parasiTes, for example, his sonar becomes dis- rupTed and he ls likely To sTrand himself ln shallow waTer slTua- Tions. The oTher animals ln The pod follow him This explains why mosT mass- sTranded animals are ln apparenT good healTh, and iT could explain why They conslsTenTIy resTrand Themsel ves when seT free, in The absence of Their dying leaden Marine mammal sTrandings are large crowd-gaTherers. People can boTh help and harm a live anlmalg lT ls lmporTanT To keep The animal as free from harm as possible. The firsT Thing ThaT should be done when a llve marine mammal ls discovered ls To Try To geT iT back inTo deeper waTer. lf The animal is Too large, keeps re- sTranding lTself, or is dead, Then elTher The NaTional Marine Fish- eries Servlcei893-3841, ST.PeTe offlcei, The Florida Marine PaTrol 4893-22217 or Dr. John Reynolds fEckerd College: 866-11663 should be conTacTed. Meanwhile, a live animal should be kepT weT wlTh lighT-colored Towels, To keep The animal cool and To prevenT lT from drying ouT in The sun. WaTer should be kepT away from The blow- hole, as This could resulT ln pneumonia. Do noT Touch a dead animal-- humans are prone To The same diseases as marine mammals, which may be conTaglous. Finally, IT ls lmporTanT To keep poTenTlal harassers away from The sTranded animal. The fine for harassmenT as sTaTed by The Marine Mammal ProTecTlon AcT of i972 is TwenTy-Thousand dollars, and This includes Taking away parTs of a dead animal. Marine mammals, alThough True mammals, are far removed from The land. They have adopTed a body form, physiology, and social sTrucTure ThaT ls based on surviv- ing and Thriving in The marine envlronmenT. BUT every biological sysTem has lTs compllcaTions, and when adap- TaTlons go haywlre, sTrandings occur. By conTlnulng To do research on The dlfferenT Types of sTrandings, we may be able To give more aid To dlsTressed animals and prevenT Their deaThs.

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