|An American Crocodile lurking in the water|
While canoeing around that area I got to see the endangered American Crocodile while would lurk in the water like a WWII U Boat submarine with its iron grey color. They can get up to 8 to 12 feet long. However, they were always leery of the canoes and kayaks which they considered to be larger and more dominating animals.
My highlight though was seeing flocks of up to 40 Flamingos. They stand up to 4 feet tall and have a muted pink color. They would let me circle around them in the canoe as they would stand and feed on the bay shrimp. However, if I got too close, they would suddenly run to gain speed to go into flight. In flight, they have a 6 foot wing span. These birds have a jet black colors on the back half of their wingspans that is only revealed when they take off in flight. These birds are so skinny and gangly looking that you wonder how on earth can they stand or fly so gracefully.
It was one of highlights of my life to see the Flamingos, crocodiles, Peregrine Falcons, and all the other amazing wildlife I got to see there.
While working as park ranger in the Everglades, I quickly learned that visitors expect rangers to know everything, don’t they?
Laboratory Earth: The Planetary Gamble We Cannot Afford to Lose by climate scientist Dr. Stephen Schneider (1945-2010) of Stanford University.
|Park Ranger Steve Robinson|
That really shocked me most of the Everglades could be lost due to climate change, but especially the magnificent Snake Bight. The crocodiles, shorebirds, Peregrine Falcons, and beautiful Flamingos could all lose this ideal habitat that is actually very rare in the overly developed Florida.
My mentor, veteran park ranger Steve Robinson (1950-2007), who was a fourth generation Floridian and a worked in the Everglades for 25 years. He loved to canoe sail along the mangrove coastline. Steve shared with me his observations how salt water intrusion was changing the mangrove habitat of the Everglades. The science I had read back then was that sea level rose in the Everglades 8 inches in the 20th century. That was four times more than the sea level rose in last several centuries. The mangroves live in a brackish tidal mixture of two to four feet of water, where the fresh water of the Everglades meets the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico. In some cases, the higher sea water, plus human coastal development along the coastal Everglades had help erode the natural mangrove barriers in some areas.
Since the 1940s, totals have been trending downward by decade and climate researchers expect the trend to continue. Scientists predict the Pacific Northwest will experience even less snow and warmer temperatures in the decades to come.
Most snow that falls in the park eventually leaves the park to nourish the rivers of southern Oregon and northern California. Less snow falling in the park means less water is leaving the park to support cities, ranches, farms, and wildlife downstream.
2. The waters of Crater Lake are getting warmer.
It remains to be seen what impacts (if any) this increase will have on the lake’s ecology. I personally hear a researcher speculate that warming lake temperatures could spur the growth of algae, reducing the water’s clarity.
That would be very unfortunate because Crater Lake is still considered to be one of the clearest and purest bodies of water in the world. In fact, its water is cleaner than the tap water in your home. This is because roughly 83% of it comes from rain and snow falling directly on the lake’s surface, while the rest is runoff from precipitation on the caldera’s inner slopes. No rivers or creeks carry silt, sediment, or pollution into the lake.
3. Climate change puts pikas in peril.
|Photo by Beth Pratt-Bergstrom,|
California Director at National Wildlife Federation
Rising temperatures appear to be driving some pika populations extinct. Pikas are not able to tolerate warm weather; their dense fur is not efficient at releasing heat. A few hours in the sun at temperatures as low as 78 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) can be fatal. Climate change also may be altering vegetation patterns and shrinking the food supply of some populations.
Many pika populations live high up on isolated peaks. While other mammals might be able to migrate in response to climate change, most pikas cannot. At least three Oregon pika communities southeast of Crater Lake have vanished in recent decades.
Tiny mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), rarely seen, is responsible for much of the damage. Scientists think, however, that the real culprit may be climate change. For millennia, mountain pine beetles have thrived in the forests of western North America. In the past, however, their intolerance of cold weather generally safeguarded high-elevation trees. Lower elevation trees, such as lodgepole pines and ponderosa pines, were the beetles’ main targets.
Recently, however, the beetles have turned their attention to whitebark pines. Our warming climate is helping these insects survive the winter at higher latitudes and elevations.
Image Source: Climatecentral.org
Thus, I built my climate change evening program around a message of comedy about myself, serious education how climate change is impacting Crater Lake, hope how Crater Lake National Park is striving to reduce its carbon emissions, and a concrete action for how my audience can get involved.
Presenting at Grand Canyon National Park
His response: "You did! You showed me graphs that indicate the snow pack had diminished and rainfall had increased at Crater Lake National Park over the past 70 years."