Friday, August 7, 2020

The Importance of water Quality

 We all know what water is. It is what covers 71 percent of the earth and also what makes 71 percent of us. It is the most important things after oxygen and is needed for everyday life. Now we need to know if the water is good to drink or even use. So this is when water quality comes in. So this week the team went to Carson Beach. The water there was very murky and warm. I noticed that the beach deeper in the water was muddy and that was what made the water quality bad. Water quality can tell many things. There kits for pH, and salinity. Those are just a few of many different kits to test water. Now what does pH and salinity have to do with anything? Well they show the amount of salt and how acidic the water is. So never drink salt water because if you do the salt will cause you to have hallucinations. It is very important to understand why we have water quality testers.

Clean Beach

Also the water quality signifies what life is in it. For example the water quality tells you the fish and the coral and other things in the environment. To know how to keep the water quality stable for all life is needed to help preserve life to its fullest. When we pollute the world the water gets polluted too. We caused our waters to be gross and dangerous for some fish to live in. We even made our harbors the grossest in america at one point. Luckily we decided to fix our mistake and make the water quality better. We should be trying to help the other parts of the world too. We need to make a change soon or it will be too late. Catch you guys on the next wave!

Water testers
Water Tester


Carson Beach

    What's up everyone?! I'm back again with another blog but this week it's about water quality and my time at Carson Beach. The first day was sort of us just exploring the area and trying to find out where everything was. We spent some time at the pier fishing but had no luck with catching anything. The next day was when we started our filming for the deliverable. As we walked out onto the beach, Ruben casted his line in and two seconds later reeled in a massive striped bass. The thing had to have been at least twenty inches. We got a few good pictures of it and then tossed it back in. We went back over to the pier and hung out by the gazebo. Claudia had a big roll of paper and we drew organisms that somebody might be able to find at Carson beach. The final day we continued filming. Vanessa was Dora and Ari was Swiper. It was pretty funny watching them act it out for the video. Ruben, McRae and I fished and found things in the water like crabs while they were doing that. We all headed back to the bathroom area and drew a mural on the ground using chalk. I drew a clam but I'm not artistic so it came out kind of bad. It looked like two hamburger buns stacked on each other. Everyone else had much better drawings but it's all good. At the very end of the day we made two TikToks. 

    If we had poor water quality organisms would not be able to survive in the water and we would not be able to swim in it or drink it. Boston Harbor has had a history of being extremely dirty water with unbearable conditions. Raw sewage discharges are what made the harbor dirty. Boston was sued in 1982 for not cleaning its waters under the Clean Water Act. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority was made in 1985 and the court demanded that they clean their waters. Spectacle Island is the cleanest beach in the Boston Harbor while Quincy Beach and Nahant are the dirtiest. People tested the water and 1/3 of the time it was considered unsafe. Some common water quality tests include pH testing, salinity testing, and temperature testing. The bacteria in the atmosphere can create rainfall and travel through a microbe water cycle. My dad remembers when all you could see in the water was trash and not a single organism. 

A beautiful image of Carson Beach


 
Vanessa and Claudia filming our deliverable

Environmental Injustice


Group picture on the Roseway

 Environmental justice is providing all backgrounds and groups of people with equal environmental laws and regulations. It’s providing everyone with an equal quality of space. The thing that stood out to me the most that the OEJ did was that  “EPA issued the Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples”. Indigenous people highly value their land and taking good care of it. To indigenous people their land is everything, so this is a huge act. The flint Michigan water crisis is a great example of environmental injustice. People had been reporting that the water in flint was causing people to become sick, but the reports were being dismissed. It wasn't until residents began doing their own investigation that officials began to get involved. In 2014 flint switched its water supply to the flint river in order to save money. Tests had been performed that indicated that the water was not a good source but because the state was saving money the evidence was ignored. The health of the public was put at risk in order to save money. That's what environmental injustice is all about sacrificing the majority in order to save the minority a few bucks.

Me hugging a tree before work because nature keeps us alive

Take a walk through Roxbury, then take a walk through South Boston. What do you find in South Boston that you don't see much of in Roxbury? Clean streets? Plenty of trash cans? Expensive restaurants? Nicely paved streets? Beautiful parks and places to sit? All of it. In general, South Boston is much nicer than Roxbury. Why is that? Well Roxbury is primarily lower to middle class Latin and Black families. South Boston is primarily rich in whites. It's the sad truth of the world we live in. The rich are taken care of and they are provided with the best water systems, streets, housing, and neighborhoods. The lower class is given whatever is left over, which isn't much. The best I can do to bring awareness is educate others on the topic, but more importantly educate myself. Join nonprofit organizations that are working towards creating change. Find ways to get involved, don't just turn a blind eye. You may be asking why should you care? Why does this matter? Well this is your home and the home of your grandchildren, your children, and your great grandchildren.  People constantly talk about how the older generations have set us up for failure, have lived life selfishly and left us to deal with the consequences. Don't be a hypocrite. Why live selfishly, with blind eyes. Don't let the future generation have to pay for our, make a difference while it's not too late. 

catch you on the flip side,

Vanessa

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/flint-water-crisis-everything-you-need-know


Constitution Beach

 This week we were at Constitution Beach in East Boston!  Constitution beach was created when the city turned the islands of Noddle, Hogs, Governors, Bird, and Apple into what we now call East Boston. The land was filled in with sediments from the harbor. Constitution beach is right across the water from Logan Airport, So when visiting you get to see planes taking off and landing! We went clamming, seine netting, and looked at all of the other creatures who inhabit the shallow waters. We found Soft Shell Clams, Hermit Crabs (lots of them!) Oyster Shells, Silversides, Mummichogs (type of killifish) and Green Crabs. All of the marine organisms would not be thriving here if the harbor was still polluted like it was in the past.

Hermit Crab

The health of the harbor is greatly effected by water quality. Water pollution is very harmful to the animals who live in it. Clams for example are what are called "filter feeders". They get their food and nutrients by filtering water through themselves. If the water that they are living in is polluted, they ingest the pollutants, making them sick and not safe for people to eat. Another way water pollution effects the animals is their shells. When pollutants are added to water they often change the pH of the water. This change is called Ocean Acidification. What this acidification does is weakens the shell which makes them more susceptible to predators. 

At low tide we did some sand raking. Below is a picture of some of the art we created. We sand raked a bunch of different cartoon characters from Aang and Appa to Stitch and Naruto! 
Aang and Appa


Fins Up!!

Grace

constitution beach and water quality

Hello there, I'm back and ready to tell you all about my time at constitution beach. Constitution beach is in East Boston. The vibe that was there was very family friendly and also it seems like a place that the community would go to come together, to catch up, spend some time at the park, take a swim or to just take in the scenery. We learned a lot about the invasive species there and we also walked around and learned about the history of the beach and how how the harbor islands changed and formed into what we know now as East Boston. While there we did a lot of great activities like sand raking and fish seining.

The topic that I wanted to talk the most about today is the water quality of our beaches and how that affects us. When we think about water quality, we need to thing about how the water affects certain animals, about the water's ph, and also about the pollution. Knowing that the Boston harbor is the cleanest urban harbor in america, Boston is held to a high standard that the people that use the beaches need to uphold. While learning about the invasive species, we learned about how they got here, and how they are in competition for food which hurts the native species.
       
Ways we can check the quality of the water in the harbor is something I learned when I was at the site of Fort Point. One of of the days we went on an old boat (the Roseway) and talked to the crew. We learned a lot about the history of the boat and how they serve the community. While there, we also learned about how certain ph balances of the water on certain days can affect the ecosystem and what animals will be prominent in the part of the harbor we are in. We did this by collecting a sample of the water and putting a few drops of dye in the water. The dye would react to the water and whatever color the water would turn would match with the ph scale. This affects the animals there because some animals favor a different type of ph than others, and would mostly stay in that part of the harbor. The animals that don't would probably move away from that part to find a better spot. If the ph stays the same for too long or changes too frequently it can drastically affect the animals there.

Dee

Water Quality and Carson Beach

 Hey y'all!

    This week we were at Carson Beach, which is actually one of the cleanest urban beaches not only in Boston, but in the entire United States. Last year, Carson scored a 100% on Save the Harbor's water quality tests, along with Pleasure Bay, M Street Beach, and City Point Beach, all of which are located on the same stretch of coastline in South Boston. Revere Beach and Constitution Beach have fairly good water quality as well. Tenean Beach and Savin Hill Beach in Dorchester are struggling, with water quality scores under 80%. These scores represent the percentage of water samples taken from each beach that stayed under the bacteria limit per sample set by the Massachusetts Department of Health. For example, at Carson, all water samples taken had bacteria levels lower than the Department of Health limit. Other than bacteria levels, levels of dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, salinity, and nutrients are also commonly used to test water quality. However, bacteria levels are generally used to decide whether a beach's water quality is safe to swim in. If E. coli levels exceed 88 parts per 100 milliliters, or Enterococci levels exceed 104 parts per 100 milliliters, the water is considered unsafe for swimming. These bacterial levels can change from day to day due to factors such as rainfall, which can both carry bacteria and wash contaminants into the ocean waters. Since bacteria quantities can change drastically with just one day of rainfall, it can be very difficult to properly measure water quality.

Carson Beach from the water

    So why do we care about water quality? As humans, we need to care about whether water is safe to swim in. We can determine whether beaches are safe to swim from water quality tests of bacterial levels. If a person swims in water with unsafe bacteria levels, they are at risk of contracting certain gastrointestinal diseases. Water quality affects ocean animals and ecosystems as well. High bacteria levels and low oxygen levels can make ocean creatures more susceptible to disease, which damages the ecosystem as a whole. Some ecosystems, such as wetlands and streamside rivers, purify water naturally, but keeping water quality high is still a challenge, especially in Boston. Firstly, we don't have many of these naturally purifying ecosystems in the city. Another big issue is our sewage system. When sewage overflows or finds its way into storm drains, it travels directly into Boston's waterways rather than a sewage treatment system. Lastly, Boston gets a lot of rain and snowstorms, and the precipitation can pick up chemicals and bacteria from the ground before flowing into storm drains or directly into our waterways. However, despite all of these challenges to keeping water quality high, our Harbor is still much better off today than it was in the past. Boston Harbor used to be so gross that people didn't even want to look at it, and now Boston has some of the cleanest urban beaches in America. Unfortunately, many people still have the perception that Boston's beaches are dirty and don't take advantage of living on the waterfront. We should encourage people to spend time on Boston's beaches by recommending them as places to visit in the city and posting about them on social media. Last week, Vanessa and I got some people out to visit Revere Beach by holding a soccer practice there! It'd be a shame to live so close to these beautiful beaches and not take advantage of them.

The Boston Harbor Goonies @ Carson Beach
Peace out y'all :)
McRae

Sources:

    “Bacteria in Surface Waters.” Environmental Fact Sheet, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, 2019, www.des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/bb/documents/bb-14.pdf.

    “Environmental Challenges for the Charles River.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 23 July 2020, www.epa.gov/charlesriver/environmental-challenges-charles-river.

    Firth, Penny. “Ecosystem Services - Water Purification.” Science NetLinks, American Association for the Advancement of Science, sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/ecosystem-services-water-purification/#:~:text=Wetlands%20and%20streamside%20(riparian)%20forests,bottom%20or%20are%20filtered%20out.&text=There%20are%20many%20other%20stream%20animals%20that%20help%20filter%20the%20water.

    “Marine Water Quality.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 21 Aug. 2019, www.epa.gov/salish-sea/marine-water-quality.

   “Rainwater Collection.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 July 2013, www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/private/rainwater-collection.html.

    “Water Quality Indicators.” Environment, Queensland Government, 3 Sept. 2018, environment.des.qld.gov.au/management/water/health-indicators.

    “Water Quality Report Card.” Save The Harbor, Save The Harbor, 22 July 2020, www.savetheharbor.org/reportcard.


Constitution Beach

 Heyy everyone,


    My group and I were at Constitution Beach in Eastie this week. We worked hard to put together our video which included a game we called Invasive vs. Native to have the kids try and figure out whether a species is invasive or not. We did some sand raking and made some cool cartoon characters, used a net to catch some small fish, went swimming, played some fun games, and learned about Eastie . Overall the week was really fun and I'm going to miss that beach, the temperature was pretty perfect out there this week, and we got to see planes taking off and landing pretty close up which was really cool. 


 
         Aang The Last Airbender                                       Timmy Turner

    This week, the topic we've been discussing is water quality, which not only affects the ecosystem, but has an impact on us as well, through the food we eat, water we drink, clothes we wear and so much more, that's why it's so important to monitor it. In Boston Harbor, some challenges to maintaining that water quality is the fact that climate change brings more extreme weather and storms that reduce the quality quite a bit. According to Save The Harbor / Save the Bay the water quality of Boston beaches over all dropped from 94% to 88% because of the excessive rainfall from summer storms in 2019. Rainwater can be a carrier of bacteria, parasites, and viruses and is a big reason for the spread of some diseases, so it makes sense if there was a lot of rainfall that year that the water quality was lowered. In the same article, apparently the 2 cleanest Boston are both in South Boston (Pleasure Bay & M street), while the least clean beaches are King's Beach in Lynn and Tenean Beach in Dorchester. This may be because those beaches are still working on improving their water quality by fixing pipes and such that could be a long process that covid 19 has probably made even longer.

    There are many tests that can be taken to see the quality of water, and one of the most common ones is the pH test which measures the acidity of the water. Another common test is the nitrate and phosphate test which is a good indicator of strong plant life, but artificial nitrate and phosphate from fertilizer or sewage can be harmful. A bacteria that can be common after a large rainstorm is E. coli which is a bacterium, and when there is a high consistency of them they can indicate that the water quality is bad. They may not be harmful themselves but when there is a lot it is probable that other dangerous pathogens are also present in the water so beaches could be unsafe for swimming. There are ecosystems that can purify their own water though like forests and wetlands that can remove sediments from runoff, as well as certain animals like caddisflies that build nets that filter the water and black flies who filter with their antenna.

    I asked my dad if he remembers what Boston Harbor used to look like and though he didn't go to the beach much he does remember how dirty it was and I remember when I would ask him if we were allowed to swim in the Harbor and he said he didn't think so because of it. Compared to today, obviously we are allowed to swim there and it is a low cleaner now as the reports of water quality show. I'd post pictures of the beaches and let everyone know how great they are and tell them to go to one near them to enjoy it as much as I am.

Sea you out there,

-Jane


Citations

“Water Testing Laboratory: Water Quality Tests & Analysis.” ADE, 23 June 2019, ade.group/laboratory-analysis-water-testing/.


“E. Coli and Beach Pathogens.” Clean Lakes Alliance, 5 Sept. 2019, www.cleanlakesalliance.org/e-coli/.


Firth, Penny. “Ecosystem Services - Water Purification.” Science NetLinks, AAAS, sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/ecosystem-services-water-purification/#:~:text=Wetlands%20and%20streamside%20(riparian)%20forests,bottom%20or%20are%20filtered%20out.&text=There%20are%20many%20other%20stream%20animals%20that%20help%20filter%20the%20water.

Constitution Beach and the Pursuit of Clean Water

Hey there everybody, 

This week, my team and I were living it up at Constitution Beach in East Boston. I don't think I had ever even been to Eastie in my life before this week, and I was so pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it there! I think Constitution is a beautiful beach and it is amazing to see the planes whizzing over your head. The beach was also filled with life (fish, crabs, crustaceans, birds, etc) which is always a welcome site in an urban centre like Boston. Lastly, as a NY area kid with Bronx Italian roots, it is always great to hear the Italian language floating through the air, which (it turns out) is a pretty common thing to hear in Eastie!

This was a particularly great week because the topics involved were two things I know a lot (and care a lot) about: invasive species and water quality! We spent a lot of the week creating a game to play with kids called "invasive or native?" and showing how they can play the game at home using the species identification app iNaturalist. Additionally, we spent a lot of time talking about how species are influenced by poor water quality, but also talking about how some species improve water quality!

One group of animals that improve water quality are bivalves. Bivalves are a class (Bivalvia) of molluscs (a phylum, Mollusca) comprising many of the traditional "shellfish" you know (and you eat) today. These species include the clams (order Venerida), the razor clams (order Adapedonta) and the oysters (order Ostreida). All of these species are "filter feeders", meaning that they feed by sucking in water through a tube called the siphon (which is also the bivalve feeding mechanism). The bivalve will then entrap nutrient particles in the water via two organs called the labial palps, and excrete the remaining water without the particles they are eating. What this means is that just by feeding, bivalve mollusks will actively remove particles from the water, thereby cleaning it! This is one of my favorite facts about any marine creature, as it shows the true power of nature that such a mechanism for water cleaning naturally exists!

Unfortunately, there is a caveat: because bivalves take in all of the particles in the water, that means that they are also absorbing any pollution in the water day after day. This means that although bivalves clean the water, they can die if the water gets too dirty. This is super unfortunate, because it means that if your water quality gets bad enough, it will lose the natural things that keep it clean in the first place. 

However, from this unfortunate truth came a great idea: the Billion Oyster Project (BOP)! The BOP is a program in New York Harbor that aims to introduce 1 billion oysters into the harbor. This was reportedly roughly the number of oysters that the harbor started with prior to the pollution of America's industrial revolution. The idea is that by having the oysters in the harbor, not only will you be re-introducing a native species and providing habitat for lots of marine life, but you will be actively cleaning up the harbor! The project originally was difficult as the water quality was not good enough for oysters to survive in the harbor for more than 2 or 3 years (resulting in a lot of turnover and restocking), but now scientists are starting to see oysters live longer as water quality improves, making it more likely that the BOP will hit their goal of a billion oysters in the harbor at some point in the near future! If you are ever in NYC for a prolonged period of time, volunteer for the BOP! I was lucky enough to have worked for one of their partners a few years ago, and was really glad I was able to help in the fight to clean up an urban waterway. 

If you want to find out more about the BOP, click here: https://www.billionoysterproject.org/

Until next time, sea ya on the sand... 

Lukie B


Dug up Softshell Clam (Mya arenaria) shells on Constitution Beach

A Quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria) shell found on Constitution Beach by team member Dee

Fishing and Whale Watching at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

On Sunday July 26th, five Save the Harbor/Save the Bay summer youth staffers got the opportunity to go on an eight-hour marine wildlife and fishing cruise off the coast of Massachusetts. A swift push from the dock was all we needed to begin the hour and a half journey to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Captain Mike Delzingo and First Mate Bradley of Fishbucket Sportfishing Boston invited Kristen, Vanessa, Grace, Roy, and Michael to explore the bank with fishing and wildlife observation along the way. We were joined by Krill Carlson of New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA) who shared her in depth knowledge about the marine animals that inhabit the waters of Stellwagen Bank. 


Prior to the trip, the collective offshore experience of the Save the Harbor team aboard the Fishbucket could be chalked up to a few whale watches, fishing charters, and Provincetown Ferries. Our work at Save the Harbor is often located in and around Boston’s Inner Harbor and the Boston Harbor Islands, so needless to say we were excited to get on our way and see what Massachusetts’s offshore waters had to offer. Before we departed, and on our trip out to Stellwagen, Krill and Captain Mike provided us some great resources from NOAA, notebooks for us to record our sightings and catches in,  as well as NECWA commonly encountered species guides so we could further familiarize ourselves with the history of the Sanctuary as well as the animals we may catch a glimpse of. 

 

Stellwagen Bank is a large underwater feature that rises out of the ocean floor in Massachusetts Bay. Water depth goes from 300’ to 100’ incredibly quickly which causes an upwelling of currents that brings nutrients to the shallower waters on the bank. This creates an excellent habitat for organisms ranging from phytoplankton and invertebrates to the whales that come to feed on them. Like many of the geologic formations in New England, Stellwagen Bank was likely the product of glacial activity some 20,000 years ago. As ice sheets receded, glacial till was deposited and formed Cape Cod and Stellwagen Bank. Based on the fossils found on the bank, such as mammoth teeth, Stellwagen must have been above sea level for some time before being covered by the Atlantic Ocean. Thousands of years after its formation, Stellwagen Bank and the other banks in the area served as important fishing grounds that helped to build the prolific seafood industries that are synonymous with places like Gloucester. Captain Henry S. Stellwagen is credited with discovering the bank. Even though fishermen were aware of shallow areas, the bank was not officially mapped until Captain Stellwagen’s work. Luckily for us, Stellwagen Bank was designated as a National Marine Sanctuary in 1992. This allowed for fishing and shipping to continue in the area, but it prevented the mining of sand and gravel from the bank, protecting the essential marine habitat there. Krill likened it to a National Park, but offshore. 

 


After an hour and a half of cruising out of Boston, we reached the Northwest Corner of the bank where we made our first stop to fish. We were after groundfish. Groundfish are a group of fish that spend most of their time near the bottom, hence the name. The most familiar species being cod and haddock. Fishing for these species is intrinsically linked with New England. The pilgrims headed for Plymouth with the goal of fishing cod, and Native Americans reaped the benefits of the sea long before that. In author Mark Kurlansky’s book, Cod, the importance of groundfishing for New Englanders, both economically and culturally, is heavily stressed. Cod was so essential to New England, especially Massachusetts, that a wooden “Sacred Cod” sculpture has been hanging in Massachusetts legislative buildings for over 200 years. We felt proud to continue this tradition of fishing the Northwest Atlantic banks, although we found none. Cod, which was once so plentiful that early European explorer Bartholomew Gosnold states his “ship… was constantly ‘pestered’ by these fish” off the coast of Cape Cod (Kurlansky, 65), has now been reduced to very low numbers. If we had caught any cod, they would have been released promptly to help rebuild their stock.  

 

 Our rods were set up with tandem rigs consisting of circle hooks adorned with flashy pink material and baited with squid. Normally lead weights and monofilament line would be used, but instead we used chain links as a lead alternative and braided line instead of mono. Both of these choices were made with the interest of the wildlife in mind, not because it was easier to use but to catch fish in a sustainable way. Lead can be very detrimental to organisms if consumed. Monofilament is much cheaper than braid, but if it is lost it can persist in the environment for a very long time, ensnaring marine organisms during its life. A rod rigged with a weight and a blunt, barbless hook was brought along as well, in order to send fish back to the bottom for release. Fish with swim bladders, sacks that allow fish to regulate their depth in the water column, cannot acclimate to the quick change in pressure that occurs when being pulled up from great depths. The gas in their bladders expands and the fish will not be able to swim back to the bottom when released. By hooking these fish on the release mechanism, we were able to send the fish back to the bottom where they were acclimated to the pressure.

 

Within a few minutes of our first drop, a couple haddock were pulled into the boat and put on ice. Haddock have a dark back, silvery body, black lateral line, and a thumbprint sized black mark above their pectoral fin on either side of their body. Among the few haddock that were caught, whiting and red hake routinely took our bait, with the larger specimens being added to the cooler too. Whiting are slender with a toothy mouth, and hake more closely resemble cod, with a small chin barbel and tendril-like pelvic fins. The longhorn sculpins we caught sported a thorny exterior, making them tricky to unhook, but we enjoyed observing the variation in their mottled brown coloration. We were captivated by the two redfish that were caught. Their massive eyes, brilliant red color, and venomous spines seemed to belong more in a tropical aquarium than the cold waters of the North Atlantic. Redfish are truly an organism designed to spend its life at depth, their huge eyes help to concentrate what little light is down there, and their bright color acts as camouflage since red light is the first to dissipate in the water column. 

 

We were very grateful that Krill was on the boat with us. She had a keen eye for marine life and was able to spot things we would have surely missed without her. Krill also introduced us to the many seabirds that we saw. Tiny storm petrels deftly flew amongst the swells as shearwaters glided just above water level in search of their next meal. The rich waters of the marine sanctuary support a diverse array of these birds, and we were able to see many of these creatures offshore. While we were entranced with fishing, Krill wielding binoculars often brought our attention to the charismatic macrofauna that were swimming by the boat so we could shift our focus and go check them out.

The whole team was overjoyed with the numerous whale sightings just off the bank. Humpback whales were the primary cetacean that we encountered, and one minke whale made a brief appearance. All of these are baleen whales, meaning they have an arrangement of fibrous material in their mouth instead of teeth. When a baleen whale feeds, it gulps water and small fish or invertebrates. It will then force the water through the baleen, leaving whatever organisms it caught to be consumed. Spouts of water from the humpbacks’ blowholes betrayed their location, affording us the ability to come within a respectful viewing distance. These intelligent creatures seemed to pay no mind to our boat, surfacing close to us at times, almost as if they were curious and wanted to get a better look. It was an incredible experience that we will not soon forget. 


We spotted a North Atlantic right whale sensor buoy in our travels which launched us into continuing our education on that particular species. The North Atlantic right whale can sometimes be spotted within the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. These critically endangered whales were once heavily hunted during the age of whaling. Their tendency to swim close to the coast, and because they float when dead, made them easy targets for whaling ships. Even though these animals are no longer subjected to whaling, collisions with ships and getting snared in commercial fishing gear has led to high mortality rates. Buoys were put into the marine sanctuary to “listen” for the songs of right whales, if heard, a signal is sent to nearby ships requiring them to slow down to avoid hitting the whale. The Stellwagen provides an excellent summer feeding ground for whales and gives people opportunities to observe these beautiful marine mammals.


The biggest surprise of the day came when a leatherback sea turtle surfaced next to the boat halfway up the bank. A turtle sighting is often a fleeting wish of visitors to the bank, due to the fact that their trips to the surface are not as magnificent as those of the whales that we saw. This amazing spot by Krill seemed to be consuming a jellyfish, and we only had a few short moments to observe its behaviors before it launched itself back into the depths of the water.




As we departed the southwest corner of the bank in our trek back to Boston, Krill pulled out the phytoplankton net for us to get to take a look at the organisms that form the base of the food chain that supports all of the fish, whales, seals, and seabirds offshore. We dragged the net for five minutes and upon pulling it back into the boat, we could see all of the microorganisms that were trapped inside. Krill had us take a closer look utilizing the magnifiers, and we were able to see the phytoplankton dancing around the slide. These are truly the species that you don’t typically think about when visiting the National Marine Sanctuary, and we were so excited to be able to interact with these organisms. 

 

            We were truly impressed with all of the ways that the Fishbucket was being cognizant of conservation during our travels. We learned that some people use balloons in their pursuit of larger fish, and often these balloons are found floating in the waters. Not only did we stop for every balloon that we saw to scoop it out of the water and place it in the trash aboard, but we stopped for any foreign objects, such as plastic, that we encountered along the way. That being said, for the most part the sanctuary proved to be a very clean area, presumably due to the respect of visitors and admirers of the Stellwagen Bank.

 

 

While any day spent on the water is a good day, this one was unbelievable. We were able to learn so much more about the waters that neighbor the harbor that we interact with on a daily basis, not to mention see a ton of amazing creatures and catch a ton of fish. Thanks to Captain Mike and first mate Bradley we were all able to take home a healthy supply of fish that will be put to good use. Upon our arrival at the dock, we were all able to take home heaps of fish which we all promptly took home and cooked for dinner! 


 


We are so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing and enriching trip, and would like to thank the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation for the chance to learn more about the unique features of the Sanctuary and the species that live there. We would also like to thank Captain Mike Delzingo of Fishbucket Sportfishing Charters Boston for connecting us with this full day of offshore exploration through a lens of conservation, allowing us to go beyond fishing in the Boston Harbor and interact with more species in the Massachusetts Bay. The day would not be the same without our resident expert Krill Carlson from New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance who not only told us the specific names of each of the whales that we saw but served as our personal encyclopedia on all things Stellwagen Bank. It truly was an unforgettable experience that we all cannot stop talking about and sharing photos and videos from! We hope to be able to have a similar experience to share with our other youth program staffers in the years to come!

 

Until Next Time, 

 

Michael Dello Russo

Grace Burns

Roy Thompson

Vanessa DoVale

Kristen Barry

 

 

 

Water Quality? Whats that?

I was at Constitution Beach this week! We had a very fun time over there. During our time, we had done a trash clean up, went swimming, and relaxed together as a group. It was fun, not to mention we went sand ranking where we made pretty cool designs! We were asked to film a video talking about invasive species for our program partners too so we did a good amount of video segments in order to teach the kids about native vs invasive Species. It was a fun time over at the beach!

   Studying the water quality around us is very important for the ecosystem and human health because it brings awareness of what is going on in the world and how we can help those situations. It helps us know how water affects us personally in our daily lives. One of the most important things in life is understanding what is around you. A current challenge that goes into maintaining high water quality is climate change and poor governance. These situations are more normalized then they should be, which creates issues for maintaining water quality all around us, when the water isn’t managed around us it can get contaminated causing dirty, unsanitary water all around us. There are some beaches in Boston with poor water quality and some that are better. One is spectacle island and another is Nantasket beach, which are fairly clean. While Lynn Beach is said to be one of the dirtiest beaches in Boston, one of the reasons why it could be considered one of the dirtiest is because there isn’t enough water management to keep it clean, unlike other beaches.

    A common test of water quality to understand what is dirty vs what is clean is to use a water quality kit; those help test the cleanliness of the water. Some people even use filters to help test it. One way to test water quality is by using rainfall, There are some cases where bacteria can affect rainfall called Bio-precipitation. Rainwater can even create bacteria and other chemicals that can lead to diseases. Speaking of, there is a bacteria known as E. coli that relates to the closure of beaches. The number of E. coli in water can cause beaches to close. As of right now if there are 200 E. coli measured per 100 millilitres of water, it would cause the beach to close. Although many things contribute to contamination of water some ecosystems contribute to water purification; wetlands and other forests often remove things from runoff acting as a filter for the water around us. Some animals help filter it as well.

    I asked my mother if she remembered how Boston Harbor used to be, she said she didn’t have a clear memory, but she does remember a time where the harbor was fairly dirty and how there was a big cleanup for the harbor. That is sort of similar today in terms of how we have a bigger cleanup for beaches to keep the water quality safe. There are many things you could do to help the public beaches, the first thing could be to research the beaches and the water quality of those places. I recommend for you to even go to a beach and observe the water quality that is in those waters, not only that but you should make sure you have fun at the beaches!

Kamal

A Design of Stitch from Lilo and Stitch that I drew at Constitution Beach!


Carson Beach


        Hello there, this week I was at Carson Beach and took a day trip to spectacle island! Overall I had a great time learning the history about South Boston and how Carson was the site for a lot of racial tensions in the 70's, and about its major 6 million dollar make over in the 90's. Carson is truly a site to explore and do a lot activities on. While doing the mural for our deliverable we got to hear so many stories on how the beach has brightened peoples day or was a place of a significant life event for someone.
Walking the trail at spectacle island 

         The topic that I will be talking about today is environmental justice and how working class communities are more effected by climate change and wealthier communities are less likely to be effected by climate change. As we already know climate change affects then whole world and is a global crisis. With the hotter summers, cities like Boston want to do their best to make sure they're combating it and assisting the communities that seem to be the most affected.
Checking for sea glass 

          However the problem with that is that some communities are more susceptible to climate change and less likely to have new changes than the wealthier ones due to lack of funding. This connects to Carson because South Boston went from being a white working class community to a more white collar wealthy community and is more likely to get the changes it needs to combat climate change when low income communities need it the most. What we can do is inform people in those communities on what they can do to help the environment in their everyday life.  Small steps always go a long way.    

Dee

Monday, August 3, 2020

Diving Deep at Charlestown Navy Yard

This week my group was at the Charlestown Navy Yard. We focused on environmental justice. Environmental Justice is the meaningful involvement of all people in the discussions on  environmental laws, regardless of race, income, or background. It's about making sure everyone is at the table for these discussions, because we all are impacted by the outcomes. The Charlestown Navy Yard historically was an area in which many laborers and craftsmen would work on the two historic ships still there today, USS Constitution and the USS Cassin Young. The Navy Yard's neighborhood has now shifted from housing laborers, to housing people of less labor-intensive jobs as a result of gentrification. Now it serves as a popular tourist destination and neighborhood, housing around 3,000 residents. Other tourist attractions include the Naval Museum and the Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center, as well as Bunker Hill Monument. (This week was exceptionally hot, if you want to walk to Bunker Hill, be sure to do this on a cooler day). 


Our group focused this week specifically on food inequality and the disparity between communities. Depending on the neighborhood a person lives in, they will have more or less access to healthy foods. Wealthier neighborhoods will have healthier, cheaper, and more of a variety of options in their grocery stores, farmers markets, and shops while neighborhoods that struggle economically will suffer from food deserts, or complete gaps in healthy food options. Food deserts are urban areas where it is difficult to buy affordable or good quality food. Those communities who struggle are often isolated from healthy food options and are limited in where their food comes from, many businesses like fast food restaurants and corner stores pop-up in these communities as a result. 




Environmental justice by definition is the right to equal resources and involvement of all people regardless of race, ethnicity, income or housing location. This could also pertain to healthcare, wellness, housing, transportation or access to healthy foods for people of all communities. When it comes to these conversations about our communities, all people in these communities should be “at the table” for these conversations. In Boston, segregation as it pertains to healthy food options is a major issue. Areas such as Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester are among the areas that suffer from food deserts. Instead of grocery stores such as Whole Foods, these areas are supplied with corner stores such as 7/11 and fast food restaurants such as Mcdonald’s, while areas like the Seaport have an abundance of healthy food options for every budget. These are issues that Boston, including all communities, need to address. 


For now, be shore to tune in next week!

Caroline




“EJ 2020 Priority Areas.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 2 Aug. 2019, www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/ej-2020-priority-areas#community.



Environmental Justice on the Navy Yard

    Environmental justice is defined as the right for equal resources no matter what race, ethnicity, income, or housing location. The OEJ, (Office of Environmental Justice) has done many strides to improve the wellbeing of many. They work in order to provide financial and technical help at local, state, and federal levels. They seek partnerships with other organizations and businesses in order to help people achieve protection from environmental and health hazards. During 2020, they have been working to bring resources to tribes and indigenous people in the area as they are under-recognized through EPA's decision-making processes. This especially caught my attention because, throughout history, indigenous people and tribes have been mistreated to the verge of extinction, now as times are changing, they are working to correct history. 
    One part of the environmental injustice that I focused on this week is food inequality. Depending on the neighborhood a person lives in, they will have more or less access to fresh and nutritious foods. Wealthier neighborhoods will have healthier, cheaper, and more of a variety of options in their grocery stores versus less well off neighborhoods which will suffer from food deserts. Food deserts are urban areas where it is difficult to buy affordable or good quality food. Massachusetts is one of the most economically segregated states in America, low-income neighborhoods such as Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury are among the areas that suffer from environmental injustice and suffer more than areas such as Seaport. Areas such as Mattapan are examples of neighborhoods that suffer from food deserts where instead of grocery stores such as whole food, there are filled with corner stores and fast-food restaurants such as Mcdonalds. Not only are the choices unhealthier and less accessible, but the prices at a corner store are also hiked up compared to prices in areas such as seaport. Without access to fresher food options at a reasonable price, people are more likely to choose the cheaper, but unhealthier options which can lead to various healthcare problems such as diabetes, obesity, and undernourishment. Anyone has the ability to help out at food pantries such as the Greater Boston Food Bank, Lovin' Spoonfuls, and much more, through volunteering or contributing to the pantries more people will get the nutrition that they deserve. As a resident of Boston, everyone should care not only because of our cities reputation, but also to protect the wellbeing of the people around us. Without everyone doing their part, people will continue to be stuck in the cycle of environmental justice without a way out.

Areas in Massachusetts that suffer from food Inequality.


                                            Varying prices in Boston depending on income.

Sea you later,
Regina




“EJ 2020 Priority Areas.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 2 Aug. 2019, www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/ej-2020-priority-areas#community.

The Navy Yard and Environmental Justice

Navy Yard, Charlestown
This week my group and I had the chance to be at the Navy Yard in Charlestown. The Navy Yard is quite beautiful and very modern. You can quickly notice how new buildings and establishments. As we walked around we saw many apartment complex's, healthcare buildings, and only a few small convenient stores. The are also has  docks where sail boats for  programs like courageous sailing. Nearby you can also find the constitution museum where people can walk around inside and see many interesting things from the time period. Not far from the Navy Yard you can find the Bunker hill monument which represents the battle of Bunker hill.
Environmental Justice
This week was got to learn about Environmental Justice. What is Environmental Justice? Basically it means the equal treatment of all humans regardless of color, income, or adoption and their involvement in the enforcement of environmental laws. However it's not always as such, for if you live in an area where there are more colored people you probably live in a very hazardous area and if you live in a predominantly white area its probably a low hazard area. Boston is one example of such visible injustice. In Boston many of the sites where hazardous waste is dumped is usually in areas of low income and minority families. This can cause so many health concerns to the people who live in those areas. However in order for this to stop the people in these areas need to use their voices and make it known of how awful it is for this injustice to continue. The world needs to learn about it and find ways to make it better and to not pick and choose where to dump such waste in places due to who lives there and what they look like. At the end of the day in the long run it affects everyone. So will you be the one to help make a change?

Sea you next time,
Jasmine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Environmental Injustices and Solutions


    
Environmental Justice is when everybody, no matter what race, color, or gender, is included in environmental laws and policies. The Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) was started around 1992 and helps communities and societies with any environmental issues and brings benefits to those communities. In around 1993-1995 they went more national. Also in 1994, the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program was established. This stuck out to me because it shows that the OEJ was able to build small branches away from their main program and broadcast more of their program all around the world. There are instances where environmental justice is happening around the world - there is even an example in Massachusetts that determines what an Environmental Justice Community is. 
    “In Massachusetts, a community is identified as an Environmental Justice community if any of the            following are true, Block group whose annual median household income is equal to or less than 65         percent of the statewide median ($62,072 in 2010); or 25% or more of the residents identify as a             race other than white, or 25% or more of households have no one over the age of 14 who speaks             English only or very well - English Isolation” 
    This is one example of how environmental justice happens around the world. Environmental justice in Massachusetts depends on the annual income of a community to make things fair among races and status. Unfortunately, there are places in Boston that aren't up to par monetarily in comparison to other places around Massachusetts. There is an environmental injustice that is hurting minorities due to the environmental waste that is put in these communities. However, although there is an environmental injustice in these communities we can still come together and assist with these issues. We should start cleaning up the harbor and taking care of any trash/waste along our beaches and waters. Doing this at a constant rate can help the poorer communities, and assist with the environmental issues we face today.    
    The reason why this matters to our community is that we're in an age where environmental racism and injustice shouldn’t be a thing. We should all live as equals and assist one another with issues we see today. This prolonging fight for equality should not be a thing in 2020 and should be eliminated in any way shape or form.

    ~Kamal T.

Have a Whale of a time!

My time at Carson Beach!


As humans, we have to understand that we are better than Environmental Injustice/Racism


Citation: 

 Environmental Justice Communities in Massachusetts. (n.d.). Retrieved August 02, 2020, from https://www.mass.gov/info-details/environmental-justice-communities-in-massachusetts