DDT is usually the first pesticide that everyone can name, and for a very good reason. DDT was one of the first chemicals used worldwide to control insects and other pests.Developed in the 1940’s the chemical was used to combat malaria, typhus, and other insectborne diseases. Along with diseases it served as an effective tool to kill insects eating crops. The publication of Rachel Carsons Silent Spring in 1962 initiated widespread concern over the dangers of using the pesticide not only to the environment but as well as humans. The EPA in 1972 issued a cancelation on DDT due to its negative effects, however much of the damage had already been done. Surprisingly DDT is still used today in some African countries when dealing with malaria problems. One of the most notorious and well publicized effects of DDT however is the effect of the egg shells on birds.
The byproduct in DDT called DDE which bio accumulates in many bird species, even our very own bald eagle. The chemical causes the egg shells of these birds to become very brittle and they are actually crushed under he weight of the female when she is trying to incubate her eggs. Thiscaused populations of many birds in the country to sharply decline. Buy the late 50’s all the breeding eagles on our island were killed or had disappeared. The main reason for the decline can be attributed to an estimation of 53 million liters of DDT dumped into the ocean at a site a few miles northward of Catalina. The toxin accumulates in fish and other small animals which are in turn eaten by the eagles. With the ban of DDT in the US the eagle populations have made a dramatic rebound.
In the early 1980’s the Institute for Wildlife Studies began its long term bald eagle restoration program on the island. They began reintroducing eagles to the island, eggs were taken from the nest after they had been laid and incubated off site so they would not get crushed. When the chicks hatched they were brought back and put in their original nest where their parents accepted them back. In 2007 biologist took a chance and let two pairs of eagles lay their eggs and incubate them without the help of humans, and it worked! Today all of Catalinas eagles lay, hatch, and care for all of their own eggs. The conservancy says the eagles now are fully healthy and here to stay, to the great excitement of everyone who visits the island and gets to see one flyoverhead. It just makes me want to start chanting USA! USA! USA!
Students visiting Catalina Island Marine Institute for the first time make various exclamations, and one of the most popular is, “Why is the water so clear here compared to the mainland?” With 88% of Catalina Island protected, it is no wonder that the land and surrounding oceans are pristine. But, who do we have to thank for ensuring the continuation of an unmarred coastline? The Catalina Island Conservancy acts as the protectors and ecologically safe tour guides of this natural, wild island.
The Catalina Island Conservancy was founded in 1972, to protect and preserve the island and its native inhabitants. The Conservancy manages, through a unique balance of education and conservation, to retain the natural wonders of Catalina, while still opening the island to the public. The 62 miles of undeveloped coastline make up the longest stretch available for public visiting in Southern California. The Conservancy is also responsible for protecting animals, such as our adorable Catalina Island Foxes and regal Bison. There are over 60 endemic (meaning only found on the island) species of plants, animals and insects. That’s a lot to protect!
The Conservancy welcomes over one million visitors each year, over sixty thousand of which are students visiting camps. The education of visitors, adult and children alike, is an important component of tourism on Catalina Island. The Conservancy ensures that tourism does not affect the natural beauty of the island, nor harms any of its native inhabitants. Instead, through education and experience, tourists have a greater appreciation and understanding of the Conservancy’s mission to retain the natural wonder of the island. Tourists also have the opportunity to contribute to various causes and efforts to benefit the island’s wildlife. Their website, www.CatalinaIslandConservancy.org, provides a variety of ways to offer support. To generate awareness and support the Conservancy also hosts events and fundraisers.
Although most of the island is protected and tourism is allowed in an ecologically sustainable way, sometimes ecosystems or animals are negatively affected by natural or human influence. With a commitment to keeping the island as natural as possible, the Conservancy is very involved in restorative practices for areas and animals that has been impacted. All management decisions are made under the influence of research conducted on the island, and the Conservancy welcomes research projects that aid in those decisions.
So, next time you are on Catalina Island and remark on the beauty of the water, or abundance of wildlife, remember that the Catalina Island Conservancy is there to make sure it will look just as magnificent the next time you come!
We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. Catalina Island Marine Institute is a hands-on marine science program with an emphasis on ocean exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and ocean happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree usually in marine science or related subjects. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science and ocean information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.cimi.org for additional information. Happy Reading!