Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Invasive Species? Celebrate Diversity!

                 Two Chinese soft-shelled marsh turtles have been seen south of Boston! There is a deep and growing concern that they could eventually threaten local ecosystems if they become established in the New England area. Was there no warning? “Two if by sea!?”  Where is Paul Revere when you really need him?
                “The concern is that if it can establish a population, it can actually survive our winter,” said Nigella Hillgarth, the New England Aquarium’s president and CEO, and a zoologist. “It could cause major changes in the ecosystem. None of the animals in that ecosystem are adapted to a predator of that size (7”-15” long). It eats large amounts of small fish, mussels, clams and insects.”  None of the animals in the waters off New England are accustomed to roughly foot-long predators? Come on. A species that eats small fish, mussels, clams and insects is unheard of there?
                These illegal alien turtles are native to brackish marshes and ponds in eastern Asia.  More than 300 million are raised annually on Chinese farms for food. Yet they are considered endangered in the Chinese wild, though they have become invasive in Hawaii, California and Virginia. Sightings have been reported in New York and Maryland.
                So, to recap, it’s endangered in its home range, but threatens to proliferate and take over our native ecosystems anywhere a couple of them get loose over here?
                An incredible number of invasive species have found their way to this country, ready to simply overwhelm our native species. Are many- if not most- plant and animal species in the “wrong” place, globally speaking,  or are the plants and animals native to the Americas just weak-sister species? In either case, Darwin, you got some ‘splaining to do.

                Illegal alien species wreaking havoc upon us?!!  We can’t build a wall for these invaders.

                Guess we just need to celebrate diversity!

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