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Old 11-20-2010, 03:39 PM   #1
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Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Default california condors and ddt

BIG SUR, Calif. — Four years ago, in a musky, leaf-lined cavity halfway up a 200-foot redwood tree here, two California condors made the region’s first known nesting attempt in more than a century.
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From the New York Times science section on 11/16/10 comes some scary news for scavengers in California, and shows how long it takes pesticides to leave the food chain.

Joe Burnett, a senior wildlife biologist with the Ventana Wildlife Society and the lead biologist for the Central California condor recovery program, who had been monitoring the condor pair, was delighted with this promising development in the continuing effort to save the nation’s largest bird from extinction. When this first breeding attempt proved unsuccessful, Mr. Burnett attributed it to the young birds’ inexperience. But when he climbed the giant tree to examine the abandoned nest, he was stunned at what he uncovered: the first evidence of a potentially significant new hurdle for the condor program.
“The eggshell fragments we found appeared abnormally thin,” Mr. Burnett said. “They were so thin that we had to run tests to confirm that it was a condor egg.” The fragments reminded him of the thin-shelled eggs from birds like brown pelicans and peregrine falcons, which had been devastated by DDT but are now on the rebound."

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Apparently there are still reservoirs of DDT on the ocean bed from a DDT plant in Montrose, on the California coast, closed in 1972. Fish eat the plankton from there, sea lions eat the fish, and eventually condors eat the dead sea lions who accumulate the DDT in their immense layers of body fat. The condors, who hover on the brink of extinction, lay eggs with brittle, thin shells, and now have one more problem to face in addition to lead poisoning from hunters' bullets.
There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, this is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar. - Lord Byron

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