Help Stop Harmful Algal Blooms!
The days are longer and the air and water are beginning to warm. Memorial Day is just around the corner and people all over the country are looking forward to summertime. Ocean Champions everywhere are dreaming of beaches and waves, clambakes and steamers, boardwalks and romance, and harmful algal blooms (HABs). Well, OK, hopefully toxic algae does not immediately come to mind, but as many of us have learned, summertime is a boom time for harmful blooms (often referred to as "red tides").
Toxic algae are no picnic. HABs can kill fish, mammals and birds. They disrupt ecosystems and food webs and can lead to hypoxia, where large marine areas become uninhabitable "dead zones." They also threaten human health. Simply eating your favorite fish or shellfish can be a risk, if it's contaminated. Or imagine a morning surf or leisurely walk along the beach leading to an emergency room visit because of exposure to certain toxin in the water or air, which can cause gastrointestinal, neurological and respiratory problems that are sometimes fatal. This makes the dreaded summer cold seem like a walk in the park. These problems are getting worse, not better, as the incidence, duration and severity of HAB events are on the rise.
Ocean Champions has made the case that America needs a national strategy to address HABs. With your help we have been heard and now you can help us pass a law for just such a strategy. The initial action is taking place in the Senate where two of our Ocean Champions, Senators Snowe (Maine) and Nelson (Florida), have introduced the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2009. The bill, which already has bipartisan support from key Senators from the East and West Coasts, as well as the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes, will authorize significant funds for research, monitoring, prevention, mitigation and control. It will fund the development and implementation of response plans, strategies and tools for beating back the HAB problem.
How can you help? The first step is to build support in the Senate. We are asking you to send a letter to your Senators today. Simply click this link to send a letter to your Senators asking them to support the bill.
Congressmen respond when they hear from their constituents. So fire up your wireless connection from the beach and let's raise the voice of the ocean and carry this good HABs bill over the finish line!
For the oceans,
The Ocean Champions Team
P.S. Don't forget to become a fan of our Facebook page. We'll be opening up dialogs about HABs and other issues all summer long. We want your ideas and opinions!
Photos courtesy of: http://www.whoi.edu/redtide/, W. Carmichael, Dr. Anderson (Brazosports)