An article in a Massachusetts newspaper has caught the eye of your SEANET blogger. The reasons are two-fold: the article in SouthCoastToday covers some of the potential impacts of the Gulf oil spill that could reach as far north as New England, and it also highlights fellow blogger Becky Harris of MA Audubon (more on her later).
While the oil itself is not projected to make it all the way up the east coast, it would be naive to think of our oceans as discrete, isolated sections. Currents aside, the mobile denizens of the oceans often do travel between distant regions and waters. The South Coast Today article discusses the oil spill’s impacts on sea turtles, which are already occurring, and on shorebirds like piping plovers and oystercatchers, which won’t be known until the birds head south to their wintering grounds. Becky Harris, former Director of SEANET and current Director of MA Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program, gave the issue some considered attention in her most recent blogpost. For Becky, the issue is personal since she and her team work ceaselessly through the Spring and Summer to ensure the safety and success of nesting shorebirds and seabirds along the Massachusetts shore. Now, as the chicks fledge, Becky and her dedicated staff and volunteers must stand back and watch, knowing that many of those birds are bound for wintering grounds on the oiled mudflats of the Gulf. What impact that may have on next year’s breeding success is unknown.
Becky’s mind is bound to be on the future these days; while her adoptive chicks fledge, she’s managed to hatch one of her very own–Becky and her husband welcomed a brand new daughter this month! So congrats to Becky on another successful field season, and on the new addition!