Monday, August 18, 2008

Baywatch (The Lost Episode)

Spent the weekend kayaking that part of the bay that lies beyond my backyard. There were the requisite moments of poetry: osprey circling the masts of sailboats; breeze-blown monarch butterflies cascading over the waves; a kingfisher diving off the roof of a waterfront shack; thrashing bluefish, minnows and bait fish leaping out of the water; cormorants posing like “Playbird” models on slick, black sea boulders and herring gulls competing with laughing gulls in a cacophony of gull karaoke. But the mornings weren’t entirely peaceful or pleasant. Green slime oozed on Annawamscutt Beach. Noxious algae mats, ranging in size from shoebox to Four Square court, meandered as floating dead zones along the shore. The coast near Nayatt Point burbled in stringy, goopy streaks of brown and green, the color of septic tea. And in the channel between Bullock’s Point in Riverside and Lavins and Cove Haven marinas in West Barrington, a fish kill: Dozens of dead menhaden, bloated and belly-up, stinking to high heaven, staring vacantly into the void. A combination of natural conditions and manmade factors (cesspools and wastewater) cause these kills and the toxic bloom that turns Narragansett Bay green at the gills. It appears that saving the bay won’t be as easy as Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff made it look.