November 2011

Feds blamed for quick water cutoff, spoiling 200K fish eggs

Alex Breitler, Record

Water districts that spend $1 million each year studying fish on the Stanislaus River are publicly blaming the federal government for the destruction of nearly 200,000 salmon eggs, after the feds rapidly decreased river flows earlier this month.

Normally, the water districts chastise the government for sending too much water downstream. You might have seen newspaper ads or billboards warning that New Melones Lake, east of Stockton, could go dry if more water is sent down the river for fish.

This time, the districts say the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation first released too much and then not enough water from New Melones, ignoring the districts’ advice and wasting their money.

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Anyone that has assisted with Coastal Cleanup Day in San Joaquin County can tell you that we contribute more than our fair share of polystyrene, plastic bags, and other plastic waste to the Great Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean. Here’s and interesting piece published  in the Christian Science Monitor exploring the ramifications, and what attracts fish to the plastic in the first place! – Jeremy

Pacific Ocean trash patch mystery: How many fish eat plastic?

Small fish living in a region of the Pacific Ocean where floating trash collects in a huge, slowly swirling bowl eat as much as 24,000 tons of plastic waste each year, scientists have found.The region, dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is double the size of Texas. It contains plastic flotsam and jetsam – toys, cups, wrappers, and bottles – that slowly degrade under sun and wave action into smaller and smaller fragments, until fish often mistake them for food.

Because of a problem in collection methods, prior studies tended to exaggerate the amount of plastic that fish consumed, as well as the percentage of fish consuming plastic. Now, the new study by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows that nearly 1 in 10 fish in the region had plastic in their stomachs.

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What will climate change mean for California?

By Matt Weiser, Sac Bee

The songbirds at the feeder outside your window are not the same as they used to be. The goldfinch, the grosbeak and even the ever-present sparrow are all a little bit bigger.

The reason is climate change, according to a new study, which found that 70 bird species, all common to Central California, have evolved a longer wingspan and greater body mass over the past 40 years.

Scientists think such adaptations, in annual increments of less than a tenth of a percent on average, help birds cope with food shortages and stronger storms already triggered by climate change.

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Nature trip for Stagg students

The Calaveras River looks like a drainage ditch where it passes by Stagg High School in Stockton.

So for the second year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local advocates took a bus load of Stagg students Saturday to a wilder stretch of the stream – at New Hogan Lake about 30 miles east of the city.

Last year, about 50 Stagg students took the trip. This year, a similar amount showed up said Jeremy Terhune, head of the Friends of the Lower Calaveras River.

Students took nature walks, hunted for bugs and critters and saw images from a special underwater camera.

“It’s an all-around learning experience,” Terhune said.

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