March 18, 2018 by Dr. G
I wrote ten blog posts documenting my journey at OCEANDOTCOMM. You can find those posts through the tag #odotcomm18.
After lunch I took a quick trip with some OCEANDOTCOMM participants back out to see this rock barge in the Houma Navigation Channel, admiring this material out of Kentucky brought in for coastal restoration efforts.
As a bonus, we saw dolphins!
I was able to make some headway on my workshop project. I’m taking the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and applying them to coastal Louisiana. I’ll be writing one-minute reads (~300 words) in the ABT (And-But-Therefore, also described in this video) template to emphasize coastal optimism, the theme of this meeting. These reads will be available online and used in my classroom. I’m thinking about further avenues of dissemination, and hoping to have a student or two that might be interested in an independent study that would expand this collection of coastal optimism stories further.
But first things first… here’s my first story for SDG #15, Life on Land (text subject to further editing and tweaking). Thanks to Delaina LeBlanc of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP) for inspiring me to learn more about this topic.
The Limpkin Moves in on Louisiana’s Invasive Apple Snail
The apple snail, Pomacea canaliculata (Lamarck, 1828), is a freshwater snail native to tropical and sub-tropical South America. This snail is an invasive species in the United States, believed to have been introduced to Hawaii in 1989 by the aquarium trade. The subsequent escape and/or release of the snail allowed for its increased distribution. The Apple snail was first spotted in Louisiana in 2007 and is feeding on a large variety of aquatic plants in freshwater ponds, lakes, swamps and other wetlands. There is a concern that the apple snail can negatively impact agricultural crops and human health, as they can carry parasites. It is a challenge to contain this invasive from spreading, as handpicking the snails and eggs is resource intensive.
However, there are natural predators to the apple snail, including the limpkin (Aramus guarauna). Believed to only exist in Florida and southern Georgia, this bird was first spotted in Louisiana in December 2017. The increase in global temperatures and shifting of habitats towards the north may have played a role in the limpkin’s geographic expansion. The presence of limpkin in Louisiana is important, as limpkins feed mostly on large apple snails.
A limpkin population may be the solution to the apple snail problem in Louisiana. Not all people believe that there will be a large enough population of limpkin to impact the overall numbers of apple snail, but there is hope that there may now be a change in the fight against this invasive, from a new visitor to Louisiana following its shifting habitat.
Sources used for this piece of coastal optimism
Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. (n.d.). channeled apple snail, Pomacea canaliculata N/A Architaenioglossa: Ampullariidae. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.invasive.org/browse/subinfo.cfm?sub=9395
DeSantis, J. (2013, August 20). Invasion: Apple snails find a new hold. The Times of Houma-Thibodaux. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from http://www.houmatimes.com/news/invasion-apple-snails-find-a-new-hold/article_3040cbf8-09be-11e3-9c8e-001a4bcf887a.html
National Park Service. (n.d.). Limpkin: Species Profile. Everglades National Park (U.S. National Park Service). Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/limpkin.htm
U.S. Geological Survey. (n.d.). Apple Snail | USGS.gov. Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.usgs.gov/centers/wetland-and-aquatic-research-center-warc/science-topics/apple-snail