Ecosystem crisis in the making?

July 27, 2013

A few days ago, mid-July, a fish die-off took place in the Venice lagoon [IT].

The authorities [IT] isolated the high oxygen level in water as the culprit, in turn due to an abnormally large seaweed growth (which has been attributed in part to the anomalous climate pattern since the spring: hot and rainy).
It is believed that certain non-indigenous algal varieties, brought to the lagoon on the hulls of cargo ships are thriving in the local ecosystem (yet another game of blame-the-immigrant?).
I meant to educate myself on the details for a while now but never found the time.

Seaweed or not, the environmental shock is propagating up the food chain.
Seagulls are already looking miserable, and very few are flying, some noticed.

From a very utilitarian and human-centric point of view, the locals don’t feed on seagull meat, and Venice as a whole has a rather open food system (most of it is imported, as there is precious little agriculture on a couple of the lagoon islands, certainly not enough to support the whole population) but these facts leave me pondering.

However other species might be relying on the ones presently in danger, as predator-prey systems [EN] are in a feedback relationship (a concept which our customer-supermarket culture has alienated us from).

I certainly hope we are not witnessing the start of a local environmental collapse.
The Venice lagoon is a unique pool of biodiversity, and its extinction would mean yet another shame on humankind’s record.


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