Please wait for animation to load . . .
Pictured are 37 (count 'em!) out of more than 50 immature
Brown Pelicans in flight over Ormond Beach's Lagoon. These
birds are classified as endangered in California, Louisiana,
Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. Because of its
more limited, exclusively coastal range, the Brown Pelican
suffered more acutely than its relative, the White Pelican,
and its numbers crashed in the 1960s. But after the banning
of many pesticides and chemicals, these familiar birds are
staging a comeback. Ormond Beach has been the Brown
Pelican nursery this year! Photo: FNNC, 200308142130
WHY ALL THIS FUSS?
From 1855 to 2002, as graphically displayed in the above animation, humans in this area have usurped Mother Nature's desires for Ormond Beach Wetlands to their own uses. This would be fine if we weren't concurrently clipping our own chances for survival. The raptors, the water birds, the swallows, the sparrows, the finches, the hummingbirds and even the seagulls and crows that feed on Ormond Beach's and other wetlands ensure the survivability of lesser animal species. Their consumption of the weaker insects not only keeps the bug count down but also contributes to the survival of mammals and fishes found on and along the shoreline.
The same is true for other, more mundane and gentle avians. Last year most Oxnardians suffered a "Year of the Gnats." Why? The Anna's Hummingbird, a species that breeds in December, elected to stay away. The only siting in Ventura County was at Oak View. Why these birds went elsewhere is unknown. We do know they are a very ecologically sensitive species. By their actions, these and other birds remind us of how well and how poorly we're treating Mother Nature.
Hummingbirds thrive by feeding along our shores as well as in our gardens. Gnats are wet-weather insects hatching in standing water and moist soils, breeding for five or six weeks, and then dying. The Anna's, and other hummingbirds, time their breeding cycle to match our winter rainy season. And now you know the rest of the story. . . ."
This is one small, easily recognizable slice of nature we can all recognize if we but stand still in our gardens for a few minutes. The chain that leads to the hummingbirds and the gnats is much larger and extraordinarily more complex.
That is the reason we should all be concerned about all life and the systems that support them. We can literally build ourselves into our graves!
The U.S. Geological Service reports that "At the time of Colonial America, the area that now constitutes the 50 United States contained an estimated 392 million acres of wetlands. Of this total, 221 million acres were located in the lower 48 states. Another 170 million acres occurred in Alaska. Hawaii contained an estimated 59,000 acres.
"Over a period of 200 years, the lower 48 states lost an estimated 53 percent of their original wetlands. Alaska has lost a fraction of one percent while Hawaii has lost an estimated 12 percent of its original wetland areas. On average, this means that the lower 48 states have lost over 60 acres of wetlands for every hour between the 1780's and the 1980's. (http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/othrdata/wetloss/summary.htm)
"Ten states Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Ohio have lost 70 percent or more of their original wetland acreage. Overall, the data indicate that 22 states have lost 50 percent or more of their original wetland areas. The state with the highest percent loss of wetlands is California (an estimated 91 percent loss from the 1780's to the 1980's):" (http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/othrdata/wetloss/findings.htm)
||California Department of Parks and Recreation. 1988. California Wetlands. Sacramento 38 pp.
||Dennis, N.B., M.L. Marcus, and H. Hill. 1984. Status and trends of California wetlands. A report to the California Assembly Resources Subcommittee. 125 pp.
||Frayer, W.E., D.D. Peters and H.R. Pywell. 1989. WETLANDS OF THE CALIFORNIA CENTRAL VALLEY STATUS AND TRENDS. U.S. Fish and Wildlife service. Portland, OR. 28 pp.
||D. Peters. Regional Wetlands Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Portland, OR. Personal communication, 1990.
Between 1986 and 1997, a net of 644,000 acres of wetlands was lost [within the continental United States]. (http://www.nwi.fws.gov/bha/SandT/SandTSummaryFindings.html)
Our Coastal Living Resources
from Meeting Our Coastal Challenges U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995 (out of print)
Although the fragile fringe of habitats comprising the "coastal zone" occupies only about 5% of the U.S. continental land area, this region harbors an extraordinary abundance and diversity of living resources.
Throughout history people have relied on coastal areas for food, soothing climate and wonderful vistas, for the watery highways facilitating trade and travel and a place to be in touch with our natural world.
The coastal zone is where land, fresh waters, and salt waters meet, forming boundaries of enormous ecological complexity and significance, The dynamic mixing areas of fresh and salt water, called estuaries, are particularly important because their high productivity is critical to many species of fish, plants, and wildlife. Our coastal areas are notable as valuable nursery, breeding, staging, spawning, resting, and migration areas for fish and wildlife. They support enormous numbers and diverse assemblages of species.
U.S. coastal areas support or harbor:
- Approximately 50% of North America's migratory song birds of management concern;
- Nearly 50% of all U.S. endangered and threatened species, including 75% of the Federally listed birds and mammals;
- 33% of North America's overwintering waterfowl;
- Almost 33% of the nation's total wetlands.
The natural bounty of coastal wetlands and estuaries is also vitally important for the Nation's economic health. Commercial fisheries and related businesses provide our nation with an annual value of more than $19 billion. In the Great Lakes, up to $15 billion annually is generated from recreation, sport fishing, and tourism. The value of Florida coastal wetlands to fisheries is estimated at up to $10,000 per acre. In California, the coastal region is responsible for nearly 80% of the State's tourism revenues.
- Coastal wetlands account for about 16% of the Nation's coastal area;
- More than 66% of all fish harvested worldwide depend upon estuarine ecosystems for some part of their life cycle.