Loons and Mercury in the Adirondacks

BY ON June 14, 2011

This piece was cross-posted at Non Toxic KidsThree loons on a lake

If you’ve ever heard a loon call you know how it strikes at your very core. At the place of wildness, that ancestral deep knowing that generations of your relatives lived on the land. That feeling of wilderness, of something so perfect, no humans are needed. Such wildness that is so often taken for granted, and so often mistreated.

Maybe that is just me.

I have a fondness for the loon, with its sleek and gorgeous body, the gleaming white spots, the fiery red eyes, and the way it pops up, watches you, then dives again.

I have the privilege of seeing them while kayaking in ponds and lakes in Vermont and in the Adirondacks.  My girls have heard (and seen) them, too, and I am so happy I can share this unique animal with them. For now.

Loons, like humans, are harmed by the lack of mercury emission standards from coal plants.  A 2008 study revealed loons with the highest concentrations of mercury show behavioral changes that lead to a higher mortality rate for loon chicks.  In addition, the mercury affects the bird’s physiologically as well, resulting in evenly sized feathers, which could impact migration and breeding patterns.

According to this article from Science Daily:

“This study confirms what we’ve long suspected–mercury from human activities such as coal-burning power plants–is having a significant negative impact on the environment and the health of its most charismatic denizens, and potentially, to humans, too,” said Nina Schoch of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program. “Thus, it becomes even more urgent for the EPA to propose effective national regulations for mercury emissions from power plants that are based on sound science.”

Indeed.  And that time is now.  We’ve got the chance to not only save 17,000 human lives a year, but the chance to preserve the incredible loon species for generations to come.

Don’t you want to share this primeval and soul catching animal with your grandchildren?  I sure do.

Please join us at the Moms Clean Air Force to fight for clean air for our children, loons, and every living creature on earth.  Click here to take immediate (and satisfying) action on this issue.  We need to stand together for the right to clean air and water for everyone and everything.

Image: By Mitch Moraski

TOPICS: Coal, Mercury Poisoning, Pollution