Michigan Loonwatch has metal Loon Alert signs available for posting at approved areas on loon-territory lakes. These are 12' x 18", lightweight aluminum. They are $45 apiece, including postage and handling. Please contact Michigan Loonwatch, P.O. Box 294, Shepherd MI 48883 or Joanne Williams: 989-828-6019, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The loss of a few loons in the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is insignificant when compared to other losses. I feel helpless to do anything about the loons or the major disaster taking place, as I watch TV and shudder at the oil soaked birds. It makes me angry.
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is huge and growing. It is immediately devastating to the economy and ecology of the area and will impact the rest of us eventually. A way of life and a whole ecosystem is a stake. With our economy already stressed, losing the fisheries and tourist trade in the gulf will hurt everyone. We are interconnected, like the web of life, and the union of states. That is why this is everyone’s problem. I feel sorry for the people that are struggling with this monstrous oil spill, because it is the worst kind of oil and in the worst location.
Surrounded by nature preserves and pristine white sand beaches, there is little chance that it will be carried out to sea with the currents. Wind and waves will transport the floating oil around the Gulf driving it into critical shallows and beaches. The critical near shore areas must be protected. The responding parties know this and are working hard to prevent more damage than what is already done. They need to pray for calm weather with no hurricanes this season.
The Gulf of Mexico, like the Great Lakes basin, is a unique eco-system. It is home and hatchery for everything from shrimp to pelicans. It is a stop-over and resting area for many migratory birds. Some of Michigan’s juvenile loons are there now. They will stay for a few years before returning north to nest as adults. The future breeding stock of our loons is congregating in near-shore areas where the fish and crabs are easy to reach. That is where the wind will be depositing the smothering crude oil. The adult loons are safe in Michigan until fall, when they, as well as this season’s young, will either be lucky and choose to overwinter on the Atlantic or unlucky and choose the Gulf.
Crude oil is a killer loaded with all kinds of solvents and ”light ends” that taint fish and invertebrates with a taste and odor that will last their whole life. What is not smothered, spoiled or tainted by the crude will be unfit for consumption. Contact with the sticky tar-like oil is usually fatal to waterfowl and waterbirds with only 50% of the rescued and cleaned wildlife surviving. Most critters will die unnoticed in the goo and never be rescued or counted. Plants, oysters, and crabs are not able to flee and are sure to be killed.
Ocean waves act as giant mixers to force tainting solvents into the water and leave behind thick globs of foamy oil on the beaches. The surfacing heavy crude oil has a lot of pollutants to deliver to the air and water before it plops on shore. The high pressure undersea fountain that is injecting gas and oil droplets into the water at the bottom of the ocean will pollute a mile of water as it rises to the surface. The polluted water can become trapped in thermal layers and transported by undersea currents to impact large areas of the ocean. Dispersants are not needed. Natural bio-degradation will eventually handle the diluted petroleum, IF the thick masses of oil are removed. It remains to be seen what damage this pollution event will cause to the ecology of the Gulf. A lot will depend on the weather, with wind having a major influence. Remember the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”? They were not.
As a retired environmentalist, I worked on many oil spills and know that you can’t prevent them, but you can prepare for them. Responsible oil companies have spill prevention plans that include contingencies for worst case scenarios. Immediate response with proper equipment is required to contain and clean up an oil spill. It is obvious that in this case, regulators let them avoid keeping these resources ready and available. It makes me angry. This tragedy affects us all.
MLPA is the only organization that is tracking the population fluctuations of the Common Loon in Michigan. That is why it is important to continue these population counts. I feel sorry for all the Loon Rangers that worried over young chicks all these years, only to realize that they are in danger in the Gulf. When the next generation of Michigan loons migrates out of our area of influence, we must trust that Nature will prevail over the folly of man. We can only hope for the best and count the returning pairs in the spring. Yes, we could use your help. To volunteer to help protect Michigan’s loons and to assess the damage to our loon population during this crisis, contact: Michigan Loonwatch, P.O. Box 294, Shepherd MI 48883, email@example.com
Upcoming Events: Visit us at some great upcoming 2013 Michigan events to learn more about loons and to shop our Loon Mercantile in person! We also welcome volunteers to help at these events. Please contact Arlene 231-598-0878.
***Information about MLPA/Michigan Loonwatch is also presented at our joint programs with Wildlife Recovery Association throughout the year. Learn more about loons and take home some looney reading!
** Details on upcoming events will be posted as soon as details are available.
Mission Statement of the MLPA
The Michigan Loon Preservation Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve the Common Loon as a breeding bird in Michigan through public education, research and the protection and management of loons and their habitat.
About Michigan Loonwatch
Michigan Loonwatch, formed in 1986 at the behest of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, is the field arm of the Michigan Loon Preservation Association, providing loon management, protection and registration. Our Loon Ranger Program, with over 200 Loon Rangers, provides for the day-to-day monitoring of loons statewide, protection of the birds, their young, and habitat on their lakes, and education to riparian owners and lake users. This network provides yearly data and information to help us to better know and understand how to direct our efforts for the benefit of our beautiful loons and Michigan's natural resources.
About Michigan Loon Preservation Association
MLPA was formed in 1987 to support Michigan Loonwatch. MLPA memberships, along with donations and grants, provide for the continuation of Michigan's only statewide loon monitoring and protection program. Our volunteer MLPA Board of Directors is made up of professional members, including several biologists. and oversees and advises MLW.
Support for Michigan Loonwatch and MLPA
Michigan Loonwatch and its Loon Ranger Program is supported by memberships and donations made to MLPA. These can be for the general fund or designated for Michigan Loonwatch, or for particular projects, such as the Loon Nestling Project which helps provide for Artificial Loon Nest Islands (ANI) and Informational Buoys to help protect nesting sites during the nesting period. Memberships begin at $10 and will go through 2013. For membership and donation information, please see the links to Michigan Loon Preservation Association below, or contact Luanne: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you; your support makes the difference for Michigan's beautiful loons!
3-1-2011: We have received a record number of Lake Reports this year from our Rangers and Coordinators! These reports help us to better know how to help the loons to be successful in their nesting and chick-rearing season on our Michigan lakes. We share this data and lake history information with state and federal agencies as we work together for our natural resources.
Our MI Loonwatch Program is continuing to grow at a steady rate, which is good news for our organization, but especially for the loons and for our main goal of protecting them in their natural habitat. We have just recently welcomed three new Area Coordinators and several new Loon Rangers, and are excited about the coming season as we await the Spring arrival of the beautiful birds we love so much!
If you wish to learn more about becoming a Loon Ranger and/or Area Coordinator; please contact us at "Loon Central" 989-828-6019.
Thank you, Loon Rangers and Area Coordinators, for all you do!