Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hurricane trash impacting Padre Island

Wow, now the hurricanes that hit the upper Texas coast is causing problems for wildlife on Padre Island National Seashore:

Tons of debris swept up by Hurricane Ike last month were carried by Gulf of Mexico currents hundreds of miles from the upper Texas coast to this ordinarily pristine landscape just north of the Mexican border.

Sections of roofs, refrigerators, loveseats, beds, TVs, hot tubs and holiday decorations litter the more than 60 miles of gently arcing sand in the national park.
"It could have a huge impact," said Larry Turk, maintenance chief for Padre Island. The park wants to clean up as much of the debris as possible before the Kemp's Ridley turtles return, he said, because a debris-clogged beach would make it hard for them to dig their nests.
Some of the garbage is a hazard to the seashore's wildlife. The most obvious risk could be the countless small pieces of plastic that could be mistaken for food.

"The plastic is a real killer of both turtles and birds," said Joshua Rose, natural resource specialist for the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.

Seabirds like gulls, terns and pelicans, not very discerning diners, can get tangled in larger pieces of plastic or get smaller pieces lodged in their digestive systems, Rose said" Read the full story

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

No refuge, food for migrating warblers due to Ike

From the
"Thousands of migrating warblers pass through the Bolivar Peninsula about this time every year, making one last stop for food and water before their 600-mile flight over the Gulf of Mexico.

But the warblers and other migratory birds might not be able to find refuge for a while on the remote and particularly vulnerable place. Hurricane Ike stripped the birds' favorite mulberry trees, leaving little fuel for their long journey ahead — one of the sobering consequences of the storm.
Up to 20 miles inland, post-Ike samples showed salt levels as much as 25 parts per thousand in water that usually has no salinity. Water begins to taste salty at 6 parts per thousand, Sutherlin said.

"That exasperates everything that needs freshwater," he said. "If we don't get a lot of rain soon, then it's gloom and doom for fish, insects and some mammals. For birds, as soon as the water is freshened, they will move back in."

At this point, there is much concern over the plight of an astonishing variety of birds — from hawks to hummingbirds — that stop along the upper Texas coast on their way south for the winter.

"This will have a huge impact on the birds," said Gina Donovan, executive director of the Houston Audubon Society. "The warblers eat so many berries that the juice gets all over their feathers. It's like watching a child eat ice cream. Without the food to fatten them for a 600-mile journey, the birds will starve and perish."

Among the many rookeries on the Bolivar Peninsula, the Houston Audubon Society's sanctuaries are covered with debris from destroyed houses and boats.

The trees — those still standing — look like toothpicks, and there are fewer birds than usual." Read the full article