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Lesson 5. The Story of Santa Catalina Island. Opening Question. What are some possible explanations for high DDE concentrations in sediments around Santa Catalina Island in 1989-2000?. Santa Catalina Island. Location : Southern California Bight – Part of the Channel Islands

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lesson 5

Lesson 5

The Story of

Santa Catalina Island

opening question
Opening Question

What are some possible explanations for high DDE concentrations in sediments around Santa Catalina Island in 1989-2000?

santa catalina island
Santa Catalina Island
  • Location: Southern California Bight – Part of the Channel Islands
  • Size: 22 miles long, 8 miles wide
  • Bald Eagle Population: Before DDT exposure there was a minimum of 24 breeding pairs on the island. By 1960, there were no bald eagles on the island.
santa catalina island bald eagle time line part i
Santa Catalina Island Bald Eagle Time Line – Part I
  • 1960 Bald eagles disappear from the Channel Islands
  • 1972 The Environmental Protection Agency bans DDT in the United States
  • 1980-1986 Reintroduction of bald eagles on Santa Catalina Island
  • 1985 A report is published detailing the discharge of DDT between 1940-1970 in the ocean surrounding Santa Catalina Island
  • Late 1980s The reintroduced bald eagles were unable to successfully reproduce, scientists took blood samples from the eagles, and found high levels of DDE.
santa catalina island bald eagle time line part ii
Santa Catalina Island Bald Eagle Time Line – Part II
  • 1990 The United States Government and the State of California filed a lawsuit against Montrose Chemical Corporation and others for dumping DDT into the environment.
  • 1992-3 United States Geological Survey (USGS) found more than 100 metric tons of DDTs remained on the ocean bottom of the Palos Verdes Shelf (near Santa Catalina Island).
  • 2000 The federal and state governments settled the final remaining claims against the companies responsible for dumping DDT into the Pacific Ocean near Santa Catalina Island.
ddt dumping surrounding santa catalina island
DDT Dumping Surrounding Santa Catalina Island
  • What birds were particularly harmed by DDT on Santa Catalina Island?
    • Bald eagles
    • Peregrine falcons
    • Gulls
  • How were they harmed?
    • Bald eagles and other birds suffered neurological damage through direct consumption of DDE contaminated prey.
    • Eggshell thinning, death before hatching
  • How was the dumping discovered?
    • Scientists noticed that bald eagles reintroduced to Santa Catalina Island did not successfully reproduce and had high concentrations of DDE in the their blood.
  • What is being done now?
  • Brown pelicans
  • Cormorants
an actual bald eagle example
An Actual Bald Eagle Example
  • A poisoned 12-year-old female eagle living on Santa Catalina Island since 1981 was found in 1993 with the following symptoms:
    • Body tremors
    • Eye twitching
    • Lack of coordination
  • Concentration of DDE in the brain of the 12-year-old female was 212 µg/g
    • Concentration of DDE in the brain of a bald eagle that died in a DDT feeding trial – 58 – 86 µg/g.
  • Concentration of DDE in the liver of the 12-year-old female was 838 µg/g
    • Concentration of DDE in the liver of a bald eagle that died in a DDT feeding trial – 280-715 µg/g .
why bald eagles are harmed by ddt
Why bald eagles are harmed by DDT
  • Bald eagles are high in the food web.
  • In addition to eating fresh fish, bald eagles are scavengers and eat the carcasses of birds and mammals.
  • When bald eagles feed on seabirds and seal carcasses, they consume fish-eating animals and thus bioaccumulate DDT.
slide9

Major DDT Transfer Pathways

Peregrine Falcons

Bald Eagles

Gulls and other Water Birds

Volatilization

Sea Lions

DDT Enters the System

Dissolved DDT

Fish

Diffusion

DDT in Sediment

Invertebrates

santa catalina island bald eagle diet

Type of Food

Percentage of Diet

No. of Species

Fish

80-86%

24

Birds

10-16%

19

Mammals

1.5-3.5%

3

Invertebrates

0.9-2.3%

1

Santa Catalina Island Bald Eagle Diet
bald eagle prey and dde

FISH

BIRDS

MAMMALS

  • Large part of the bald eagle diet
  • - In 1992, 16 species of fish were sampled around Santa Catalina Island; 93% had DDE in their tissue.

-Most bird prey are fish-eating bird species.

- Average DDE concentration in gulls sampled on Santa Catalina Island – 5.94 µg/g.

  • Bald eagles scavenge on the carcasses of sea lions and seals.
  • DDE stores in the blubber of the sea lions and seals.
  • - Average DDE concentration in sea lions sampled on Santa Catalina Island – 3 µg/g.
Bald Eagle Prey and DDE
bald eagles and dde
Bald Eagles and DDE
  • Birds and mammals account for a small amount of the bald eagle diet, but are the source of much of the bald eagles’ DDE exposure.
  • Osprey do not feed on tertiary consumers such as fish-eating birds and sea mammals – this results in lower DDE concentrations.
continued reproductive failure of reintroduced bald eagles on santa catalina island
Continued Reproductive Failure of Reintroduced Bald Eagles on Santa Catalina Island
  • In 1980 bald eagles were reintroduced to Santa Catalina Island.
  • For several years, scientists noticed that the reintroduced eagles were not successfully reproducing.
  • In 1989, scientists began testing eggs from the bald eagles’ nests on Santa Catalina Island and found the highest levels of DDE concentration ever recorded for bald eagles – scientists compared these DDE levels with other locations just as you did on days three and four.
  • Naturally, the investigating scientists wondered how the levels of DDE became so high.
montrose chemical corporation others v united states government state of california
Montrose Chemical Corporation & others

v.

United States Government & State of California

montrose chemical corporation
Montrose Chemical Corporation
  • Pesticide manufacturer – Manufactured DDT
  • Between 1940-1970 Montrose discharged 1800 tons of DDT into Los Angeles sewers that dumped into the Pacific Ocean.
  • Montrose dumped hundreds of tons of DDT contaminated waste into the ocean near Santa Catalina Island.
  • Montrose closed its DDT factory in 1982.
united states government state of california
United States Government & State of California
  • The US Government and State of California fought a 10 year court battle and the final settlement hinged on the analysis similar to the activities you did on day three and four.
  • Total value of all settlements paid to the federal and state government - $140 million (Montrose paid about $70 million and other parties paid about $70 million)
  • Most of the money was granted to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the DDTs exposure to people and wildlife and reimburse the government for the litigation costs.
  • $30 million is going to natural resource restoration projects.
the government agencies that received settlement funds
The government agencies that received settlement funds
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • National Park Service
  • California Department of Fish and Game
  • California State Lands Commission
  • California Department of Parks and Recreation
slide18

According to the Superfund Law -The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)

Government agencies must use settlement funds for cleanup, restoration, fines and penalties, and reimbursement of government costs.

what is restoration
What is Restoration?
  • Restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem (or habitat) that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed.
  • Although it is important that restoration takes place after damage has been done, it is more important to make efforts to avoid damaging the environment in the first place.
restoration activities
Restoration Activities
  • Projects to benefit bald eagles on Santa Catalina Island.
  • Fish contaminant concentrations are surveyed to create a cleaner fishing environment for people and wildlife.