Bering Sea eco system
edited: Saturday, January 20, 2007
By Hal Granum
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, January 17, 2007
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The relationship of species in the Bering Sea.
THE BERING SEA ECO SYSTEM UNDER STRESS
It is quite normal to think of the vast Bering Sea, north of the Aleutians Islands as a pristine wilderness far removed and untouched by the hand of man or the ravages of nature. But the march of time throughout the physical world affects all eco systems and the Bering Sea changes with it.
On the surface the scene across this wide expanse appears unchanged to the eye, but that would be erroneous. The fog, rain, and wind are all there, as it always has been, but it is beneath the surface where the real changes are being felt. Marine life in this sea, are undergoing constant and serious alterations to its basic foundation and require close scrutiny. The pressure of man’s presence along with natural forces at work all lead to organisms under stress. Sea Lions, seals, otters, fish, crustaceans and birds to mention a few, are all suffering from a combination of forces that affect both the individual species as well as the larger eco system. The question needs to be asked what and why are the species of this area undergoing such changes and what can be done about it?
The Unangan were the first people to arrive on the Aleutian Islands, thousands of years ago, although most people know them today as Aleuts. They have witness first hand the gradual deterioration of this pristine environment. An example of this interplay can be explained by studying the kelp beds of the Aleutians Islands within the Bering Sea. See also www.halgranum.com. The fragility of the Aleutian marine eco system as it pertains to just one species, the kelp bed, is staggering. The inter relationship between every organism is crucial and has a direct affect on its neighbor.
THE KELP BED
Within the kelp beds are sea-urchins which feed voraciously on the kelp. The otter also lives in the kelp bed and feeds on its favorite food which is the sea-urchin. In addition, the Steller Sea Lion is the Orcas favorite food. How do these separate species intertwine?
The Steller Sea Lion which is the favorite food for Orcas has been decreasing in numbers at an alarming rate. As a result the Orcas must turn to another food source. In this case the Orcas turn to the otters for food.
As the otter’s numbers decrease they eat fewer sea-urchins causing the numbers of sea-urchins to rapidly multiply. Without the otter the sea-urchins feed unchecked on the kelp beds and the kelp beds slowly disappear.
This single example helps explain the close interdependence that’s affects virtually all the organisms and how they depend on the kelp bed for both food and protection from predators. Through this chain of events the health of any one organism can have drastic consequences for the entire environment. Where there are numerous otters to control the growth rate of sea-urchins the kelp beds are healthy and provide a safe haven.
There are many people studying and searching for answers to this perplexing phenomenal change that is taking place in the Bering Sea. The race is on, to find answers and develop a plan, to turn around the deteriorating conditions in the Bering Sea. Some causes may be natural forces and some man induced. Natural forces remain some what out of man’s control, but man made changes that adversely affect the sea around the Aleutian Islands is very much in man’s control. It is hoped that all people can come together to analyze and take the necessary steps to conserve this wilderness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hal Granum is a long time resident of the Pacific Northwest and has lived in Alaska. He currently lives in Woodstock, Georgia. His book “The Great Eagle Spirit” takes place in the Aleutian Islands on the Bering Sea. It is about a young boy who discovers the improtance of his ancestry through his adventures. Hal is currently working on his next novel, “My Ticket To Coal Banks.
See www.halgranum.com or contact him at Granumharold.comcast.net.
Web Site: Hal Granum
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|Reviewed by Brock Shaver
|It is distressing reading this, right after seeing a show on all the technical marvels that will save us from global warming. There is such a disconnect with Nature, few people realize the domino effect happening now, despite our 'positive-speak' of how we can turn it around in ten years with a few more gadgets.
|Reviewed by Leland Waldrip
|So, why are the Steller Sea Lions dying off? It could be from some natural cause, but my guess is: probably from ingesting PCBs and mercury from the fish they eat. Or would it be some other toxin we've loosed in the sea? The balance of nature is delicate and when it reaches a tipping point, there may be no going back to what we had before. Informative article. Thanks.