Thursday, October 06, 2011

Once Again, the Myth that Pesticides are Killing the Sound's Lobsters Won't Die

There's a story in today's Connecticut Post that asserts without a shred of evidence that pesticides were responsible for Long Island Sound's lobster die-off. I don't have the energy to take it apart but here's a link to a post I wrote several years ago, called The Pesticide Myth and Long Island Sound's Lobster Die-Off.

The link to the report is dead in that post but if you click here, the first link will get you a pdf of the report.

Here's what it says about pesticides and their role inthe 1999 die-off.

While it is evident that certain concentrations of these pesticides can kill lobsters, one important question was whether enough of the pesticides got into the LIS water column to cause illness or death in the lobsters. The dispersion of the individual pesticides over time was examined using two independent modeling techniques (carried out by Hydroqual, Inc. and at Stony Brook University) and very conservative assumptions (e.g., 100% of each pesticide applied entered the water before beginning to break down). The results indicated that only a few areas of the far western Sound could have had pesticide concentrations high enough to cause sub-lethal effects in lobsters.

In others words, if every drop of all the pesticides used in 1999 made it into the Sound intact, it would have injured lobsters in only a very few areas of the far western Sound but even then it would not have killed them. That's what sub-lethal means. And of course the only way 100 percent of the pesticides could have made it into the Sound would have been if they were sprayed directly into the Sound. Which they weren't.

I see no reason why if it was right in 1999 it's not right in 2011.

Here's why lobsters died in 1999:

Key findings that directly related to the die-off included sustained, above-average, stress- inducing water temperatures, hypoxia, and temperature stratification, followed by quick mixing of the water column caused by a rapidly moving weather front. Toxic sulfides and ammonium moving from the sediments into the near-bottom water column in late summer and early fall also acted as stressors. Driven by water temperature, these hostile environmental conditions placed undue stress upon the physiology of the lobsters, and may have been sufficient to have caused lobster deaths in absence of any other factors.

Environmental conditions were different this year than in 1999 -- hypoxia wasn't as bad this year; there are many, many fewer lobsters, so overcrowding isn't an issue.

But the unavoidable conclusion is that spraying a relatively small amount of mosquitoes in New York isn't going to kill lobsters off Darien.

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