Pandoras locks.chronological

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This presentation explains how building the St. Lawrence Seaway and allowing ocean freighters into the Great Lakes in 1959 unleashed one of the world's worst environmental disasters.

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Pandoras locks.chronological

  1. 1. The St. Lawrence Seaway: How anThe St. Lawrence Seaway: How an engineering marvel unleashed a biologicalengineering marvel unleashed a biological plague on the Great Lakesplague on the Great Lakes Presentation by JeffPresentation by Jeff Alexander, author ofAlexander, author of “Pandora’s Locks: The“Pandora’s Locks: The Opening of the GreatOpening of the Great Lakes-St. LawrenceLakes-St. Lawrence Seaway”Seaway”
  2. 2. In the beginning …In the beginning … Glaciers formed, then filled the Great LakesGlaciers formed, then filled the Great Lakes
  3. 3. The Great Lakes: A closed ecosystemThe Great Lakes: A closed ecosystem
  4. 4. The Great Lakes are perched above sea level, which (inThe Great Lakes are perched above sea level, which (in lakes’ natural state) kept ocean species from enteringlakes’ natural state) kept ocean species from entering
  5. 5. This freshwater ecosystem was …This freshwater ecosystem was … Natural barriers kept ocean species from entering the lakesNatural barriers kept ocean species from entering the lakes
  6. 6. •• UniqueUnique ••Biologically isolatedBiologically isolated from the oceansfrom the oceans •• PERFECTPERFECT
  7. 7. 1600s: Europeans settlers1600s: Europeans settlers arrive in the regionarrive in the region 1800s: Erie and Welland canals1800s: Erie and Welland canals bypass Niagara Falls, allow seabypass Niagara Falls, allow sea lamprey, other ocean specieslamprey, other ocean species into Great Lakesinto Great Lakes
  8. 8. Important note: Lake freighters, so-called lakers, have carried the vast majority of cargo on the Great Lakes for more than a century. Lake freighters haven’t imported any foreign species into the Great Lakes. The reason: These ships never leave the Great Lakes.
  9. 9. Wedding of the WatersWedding of the Waters 1959: The St. Lawrence Seaway opens1959: The St. Lawrence Seaway opens
  10. 10. Economic gain, ecological painEconomic gain, ecological pain The Seaway:The Seaway: •• Allowed ocean freighters into the GreatAllowed ocean freighters into the Great Lakes for the first time.Lakes for the first time. •• Linked Great Lakes ports/ships to theLinked Great Lakes ports/ships to the global shipping network.global shipping network. •• Created modest economic gain, majorCreated modest economic gain, major ecological pain.ecological pain. •• Unforeseen side effect: Ocean shipsUnforeseen side effect: Ocean ships carry up to 5 million gallons ballast ofcarry up to 5 million gallons ballast of water teeming with foreign species.water teeming with foreign species. •• Ballast water discharges largelyBallast water discharges largely unregulated from 1959-2006.unregulated from 1959-2006. •• Ocean freighters dumped about 50 billionOcean freighters dumped about 50 billion gallon of untreated ballast water in Greatgallon of untreated ballast water in Great LakesLakes
  11. 11. Important note: This is an ocean freighter, or salty. Ocean freighters — not lake freighters — import invasive foreign species into the Great Lakes. Ocean freighters have imported 57of 186 invasive species in the Great Lakes.
  12. 12. 1960s: Invasions begin1960s: Invasions begin Foreign worms, clams and microscopic invaders discoveredForeign worms, clams and microscopic invaders discovered in the Great Lakes in the 1960s and ’70s. No one soundedin the Great Lakes in the 1960s and ’70s. No one sounded the alarm.the alarm.
  13. 13. Key datesKey dates •• 1959: Seaway opened.1959: Seaway opened. • 1972: Clean Water Act regulated ballast water discharges1972: Clean Water Act regulated ballast water discharges from domestic and foreign ships operating on U.S. waters.from domestic and foreign ships operating on U.S. waters. • 1973: U.S. EPA declared ballast water exempt from the1973: U.S. EPA declared ballast water exempt from the Clean Water Act.Clean Water Act. • 1981: Canadian study found hundreds of foreign species1981: Canadian study found hundreds of foreign species (including zebra mussels) in ballast water tanks of ocean(including zebra mussels) in ballast water tanks of ocean freighters entering the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrencefreighters entering the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway. U.S. and Canadian agencies that regulatedSeaway. U.S. and Canadian agencies that regulated shipping ignored the study’s findings.shipping ignored the study’s findings.
  14. 14. I hate the ’80s: Invaders storm the lakesI hate the ’80s: Invaders storm the lakes • 1984: Spiny water flea1984: Spiny water flea • 1986: Eurasian ruffe1986: Eurasian ruffe • 1988: Zebra mussels1988: Zebra mussels • 1989: Quagga mussels1989: Quagga mussels • 1990: Round gobies1990: Round gobies
  15. 15. Consequences of ocean freightersConsequences of ocean freighters infecting the Great Lakes withinfecting the Great Lakes with foreign invasive speciesforeign invasive species
  16. 16. Sucking the life out of the lakesSucking the life out of the lakes Each zebraEach zebra and quaggaand quagga mussel canmussel can filter up to 1filter up to 1 liter of waterliter of water per day,per day, increasingincreasing water claritywater clarity and stealingand stealing plankton fromplankton from fish. Clearfish. Clear water alsowater also promotespromotes excessiveexcessive algae growth.algae growth.
  17. 17. In 2009, scientists estimated there were 500 TRILLIONIn 2009, scientists estimated there were 500 TRILLION quagga mussels in Lake Michiganquagga mussels in Lake Michigan
  18. 18. * Clearer water leads to excessive algaeClearer water leads to excessive algae
  19. 19. Algae blooms have closed numerous scenic beaches in the GreatAlgae blooms have closed numerous scenic beaches in the Great Lakes basin, including Petoskey State Park’s (below) in MichiganLakes basin, including Petoskey State Park’s (below) in Michigan
  20. 20. Round gobies taking over the Great LakesRound gobies taking over the Great Lakes 10 BILLION gobies in western Lake Erie;10 BILLION gobies in western Lake Erie; Even more (10 million pounds) of gobies in Lake MichiganEven more (10 million pounds) of gobies in Lake Michigan
  21. 21. Foreign mussels contribute to Type E botulism outbreaksForeign mussels contribute to Type E botulism outbreaks that have killed more than 70,000 Great Lakes waterthat have killed more than 70,000 Great Lakes water birdsbirds
  22. 22. Zebra and quagga mussels triggering toxic algae blooms in lakesZebra and quagga mussels triggering toxic algae blooms in lakes across Midwest, Northeast; some strains more toxic than cyanideacross Midwest, Northeast; some strains more toxic than cyanide
  23. 23. 1989: One year after zebra mussels1989: One year after zebra mussels were found in the Great Lakeswere found in the Great Lakes
  24. 24. 2009: Foreign mussels a plague on waters of N.2009: Foreign mussels a plague on waters of N. AmericaAmerica
  25. 25. Mussel painMussel pain Quagga mussels take over Lake MichiganQuagga mussels take over Lake Michigan
  26. 26. After foreign mussels arrived, the most important sourceAfter foreign mussels arrived, the most important source of Great Lakes fish food began to vanishof Great Lakes fish food began to vanish Population changes ofPopulation changes of diporeiadiporeia (freshwater shrimp, right) in lakes(freshwater shrimp, right) in lakes Michigan and Huron after zebra andMichigan and Huron after zebra and quagga mussels invaded the lakes.quagga mussels invaded the lakes.
  27. 27. Fish food disappearing; salmon, whitefish shrinkingFish food disappearing; salmon, whitefish shrinking
  28. 28. Ship-borne invaders in the Great LakesShip-borne invaders in the Great Lakes •• Ocean freighters have imported 57Ocean freighters have imported 57 foreign species into the Great Lakesforeign species into the Great Lakes •• 70,000+ birds killed70,000+ birds killed •• Fisheries disruptedFisheries disrupted •• Most profound changes everMost profound changes ever recorded in some Great Lakes.recorded in some Great Lakes. •• Scope: 23 states, 2 provincesScope: 23 states, 2 provinces •• Zebra mussel damage: $1 billionZebra mussel damage: $1 billion •• Ongoing damage from ship-borneOngoing damage from ship-borne invasives: About $200-$400 millioninvasives: About $200-$400 million per yearper year •• Total damage: ??? Still growingTotal damage: ??? Still growing
  29. 29. SummarySummary • St. Lawrence Seaway was an:St. Lawrence Seaway was an: – Engineering marvelEngineering marvel – Economic underachieverEconomic underachiever – Environmental disasterEnvironmental disaster • Should we close the Seaway?Should we close the Seaway? – It’s the only 100% effectiveIt’s the only 100% effective protection against new ship-protection against new ship- borne invaders, but unlikely toborne invaders, but unlikely to happen.happen. – Costs vs. benefitsCosts vs. benefits – Impact on jobsImpact on jobs
  30. 30. Glimmers of hopeGlimmers of hope The Great Lakes are changing but all is not lostThe Great Lakes are changing but all is not lost •• The Great Lakes are resilient.The Great Lakes are resilient. •• A few native speciesA few native species benefiting from invaders.benefiting from invaders. •• Improved ballast waterImproved ballast water regulations offer betterregulations offer better protection for the lakes.protection for the lakes.
  31. 31. Just when you thought theJust when you thought the great invasion of the Greatgreat invasion of the Great Lakes by foreign speciesLakes by foreign species couldn’t get any worse …couldn’t get any worse …
  32. 32. Enter Frankenfish?Enter Frankenfish?
  33. 33. Enemies at our doorstep: Asian carpEnemies at our doorstep: Asian carp •• Imported in ‘60s, ‘70s toImported in ‘60s, ‘70s to commercial fish farms incommercial fish farms in Arkansas.Arkansas. •• Four species (silver, bigheadFour species (silver, bighead carp the worst).carp the worst). •• Escaped fish farms, enteredEscaped fish farms, entered Mississippi River.Mississippi River. •• Migrated North; Asian carpMigrated North; Asian carp DNA found in Lake Michigan.DNA found in Lake Michigan. •• Millions of Asian carp in theMillions of Asian carp in the Mississippi, Illinois, MissouriMississippi, Illinois, Missouri rivers.rivers. •• Threat to Great Lakes’ $7Threat to Great Lakes’ $7 billion fishery, $16 billion boatingbillion fishery, $16 billion boating industry.industry.
  34. 34. Is Asian carp invasion of the Great Lakes inevitable?Is Asian carp invasion of the Great Lakes inevitable? Maps show theMaps show the distribution ofdistribution of bighead Asianbighead Asian carp (left) andcarp (left) and silver Asian carpsilver Asian carp (right) in U.S.(right) in U.S. waters.waters.
  35. 35. Now what? Prepare for battle!Now what? Prepare for battle! E-mail elected officials; demand action; support nonprofit groupsE-mail elected officials; demand action; support nonprofit groups
  36. 36. Let’s Save the Great Lakes!Let’s Save the Great Lakes! For more information please visit www.jeffalexander.orgFor more information please visit www.jeffalexander.org

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