Blue Whale Campaign raises awareness on threatened gulf eco-system

By Maureen Coulter
Oct. 27, 2014

Colin Jeffrey and Zack Metcalfe are on a mission.
The duo from the Sierra Club Atlantic came up with something called the Blue Whale Campaign in June. The goal is to raise awareness about the species that live in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the threats some of those species face.
Metcalfe said 20-105 blue whales frequent the waters in the gulf, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
The gulf has the largest known concentration of krill, a small crustacean, in the northwest Atlantic Ocean, he said.
“It’s fair to say that this is an eco-system they depend on.”
Blue whales are considered an endangered species, said Jeffrey.
“We have a legal obligation to try and protect them and to protect their critical habitat.”
On Nov. 1, the Prince Edward Island Preserve Co. will host a fundraiser dinner for the campaign. Jeffrey will talk about the threats to the gulf eco-system. Mary MacGillivray and Blaine Hrabi will provide live folk music.
Jeffrey describes the gulf as a marine rainforest with over 4,000 species and one of the biggest threats is increased acidity in the water from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The acidity has increased 90 per cent since the 1930s, he said.
“It’s actually become a serious problem. The acidity eats away at the shells of shellfish and crustaceans and it forces them to put more energy on keeping their shells intact. They have less energy for finding food.”
Other issues include the warming waters from climate change, shipping traffic, and pollution from the land making its way into streams, rivers and eventually the ocean.
The newest threat is oil and gas development in the gulf, which hasn’t happened yet but is in the planning stages, said Jeffrey.
If the gulf’s eco-system continues to degrade, fisheries and tourism will be affected on P.E.I., he said.
“They are so linked to the health of our gulf. We often miss how environmental degradation impacts our economy and our lives generally.”
Metcalfe said one out of every two breaths a person takes is produced by the oceans.
“We often think of the rainforest as being the lungs of the earth, however, the oceans absorb a lot of the CO2 of the earth.”
Tickets for the fundraiser are available in advance by calling 902- 964-4300 or 1-800-565-5267.
The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter contact information is Colin Jeffrey at colinjef@hotmail.com, 902- 213-2349 or Save our Seas and Shores- P.E.I. Chapter ianforgeron@gmail.com.

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