ALGAL BLOOM COUNTY
September 2, 2022 10:00pm
OR, BIO-TRAGEDY at Lake Merritt... This episode doesn't start until about 13-15 minutes in. Before that there is... nothing. No music, no content, but absolute Blankness, out of whose oblivion is born this succedaneum show about a real local biological crisis. Substitute Host Jett appears and then truly soars with a documentation of, and interview about the tragic loss of aquatic life in Oakland's Lake Merritt. Special Guest Damon Tighe, naturalist with focus on Lake Merritt, appears on the program for the first time. His level of awareness of lifeforms is astonishing: plants, fungi and animals-- and not just whatever beings are in the Lake Merritt area.
By now you may've heard about the devastating algal bloom/red tide that caused massive life die-off in the lake and many other areas of the Bay, affecting at least 80 miles of shoreline. Jett walks at the lake nearly every day, even if only walking along its shore on his way elsewhere, and quite some time ago truly fell into love with that local environ; he finds the tragedy deeply affecting. Sunday, the 29th, at first astounded by the sight of dozens of Bat Rays - the first he'd seen even one - swimming along the margin of the upper part the western shore, he then realized they were not just aggregating for food. None of them were doing any feeding, in fact, despite the presence of thousands of small fish swimming around them. Their gills were visibly agitated, hyper-active and clearly gasping for oxygen. Starting Saturday night, the bloom, which had been seen to be present in the lake for several weeks, has simply expanded-- and continues to consume oxygen. The 'bottom' end of the lake, by the channel that ferries the tide to and from the bay, became covered with thousands of small, dead fish of several species.
By Monday, all of the Bat Rays were dead. Thousands of striped bass, another fish Jett had not witnessed there before that day, lay dead on the bottom. Tens of thousands of dead small fish were noted. He watched bivalves perishing, wading birds picking up and spitting out dead bodies: a Horror show. Walking the lake, working to grasp the hugeness of the tragedy, Jett spoke with many people clearly in shock and wondering what had happened.
Fertilizer run-off from farms in the Central Valley increased due to lack of rainwater, various waste-waters from Alameda County, the recently warmed Pacific Ocean (the Lake communicates with the salt-water Bay), along with many recent hot, sunny days, cause the disaster. Essentially, climate crisis and human ignorance, which are one-and-the-same anyway, drive the problem. Special Guest Damon has spent much time observing and documenting lifeforms via iNaturalist, its website and app, and through the efforts of a few local citizen-scientist groups. Dr. H. Owll will soon be returning from the desert. He approved this (5-hour) message.