Copyright ©2012 Ramaswami Ashok Kumar
2.1 List of flora and fauna found at the Bay of Fundy
Cod, Haddock, Redfish, Hake, Pollock, Wolffish, Flounders, Herring, Mackerel, Tuna, Eels, Salmon, Alewives, Shad, Smelt, Lobsters,Shrimp, Scallops, Clams, Winkles, Worms, Crabs and Seaweeds, marine algae, oyster drill, mud snail, slipper limpet, rough whelk, isopods, amphipods, saltmarshes, Dulse, Irish Moss, Knotted Wrack, green sea urchin, Blue mussel, Salt marsh cord grass, rushes, slough grass, bivalve mollusks and others.
These form in the sea water part of the ecosystem, major production pathways as follows:
|Table 1:||Major production pathways in the sea water part of the ecosystem of the Bay of Fundy|
|6||Suspension feeders,e.g. scallops|
Thriving on this ecosystem is a huge variety of avifauna in the Bay of Fundy:
2.2 Avifauna thriving on the ecosystem of the Bay of Fundy
Black Duck and sea ducks(including Common Goldeneye,Buffle Head, Oldsquaw, Common eider and Scoters), Red breasted Merganser, Scaups, Atlantic Brant, Pelagic species like Blacklegged Kittiwake, Common Murre, Dovekie, Razorbill, Puffin, Purple Sandpiper, Arctic Tern, leach's Storm Petrel, Black Guillemot, Herring Gull, Great Blacknecked Gull, Common Tern, Double Crested Cormorant, Phalaropes(Red Phalaropes included), Bonaparte's Gull, Cannets, Shearwaters(Greater Sooty and Manx), The Canada Goose, Blue-winged Teal, American Greenwinged Teal, Sanderlings and Red-Knot.
2.3 The Numbers
These birds number in the hundreds and thousands and sometimes millions as they use these mudflats during their migration. How the seas food resources are produced, how the birds and others use these, and how these resources are affected should be understood before man made constructions like Tidal Power Plants and other ocean developments disturb these distribution patterns. Nobody knows the consequences in brief, namely the effect on the bird populations and on the tidal food resources, a tidal power plant will exert. To illustrate the complexity, while studying the Bay of Fundy ecosystem, it could not be explained how there were high populations of benthic invertebrates in the sediments of the Minas Basin, given low values of organic carbon and nitrogen in the sediments(Daborn 1977).
2.4 Some Observations on Tidal Communities and Their Continuity.The particular ecosystem has been studied in some detail reveals some interesting facts which appear to be a common characteristic of ecosystems maintaining a rich diversity of life.First to note is that the number of species of birds using the tidal mudflats is of the same order as the major species inhabiting the tidal mudflats enumerated above. That is the number of species identified in para 2.1 and 2.2 above is approximately 40. A deeper study of this aspect may prove useful in tracing the flow of energy through this ecosystem or in a similar tidal location like that at Kandla.Similarly at Sunderbans.
2.4.1 Harvesting Pattern and Maintenance of Continuity
Drawing upon another ecological attribute we have the following discernible pattern of food resources in the in the area harvested by man(excluding birds):
Table 2 shows that the Herrings are the dominant species that were landed(347 x 10^6 lbs) in a year(1971).
|Table 2||Landings in millions of pounds in the Bay o Fundy in 1971|
The variety of other harvested species is large but they are comparatively much smaller in number (varying from 0.1 to 18.1 million pounds. This appears to be a characteristic property of a rich diverse community: a large variety but small in numbers in each variety except for one or two dominant species. See for example an analogous result for a tropical forest(Howe,1983): The important point is that ' in a community, some species are common,some are less common and many are rare. The preservation of a community inevitably requires the preservation of species present in substantially different abundances.' Apparently this conservation aspect has to be firmly borne in mind whenever a study is being made of possible changes in tidal regime owing to man-made causes like dams and large tidal power plants, changes in sea level or climate.
3.0 Harnessing Tidal Effects or Harvesting Natural Food Directly?
There are two ways of making available energy: by machines or by living things. In the example of tides, the machine is the tidal power plant and the living things are those discussed above.
3.1 Harvesting the Sea in tidal rich areas.
Discovering the diversity of life in tidally endowed areas and finding therein a thoroughly unified community in which there are no losses and productivities are all utilised 100% and in which the driving force is the energy of the sun and of the tides, man entered and harvested some of the natural renewable resources in such a way that production and continuity were maintained; there were no loss in 'catch' substantialy from year to year. Thus in the Bay of Fundy for example, a thriving sea harvesting community exists employing some 25000 people,and with an annual financial value of US dollars hundred million(1972).
3.1.1 Nature of living energy in the tidal ecosystem
Looking closely at the marine ecosystem shows clearly that after all this natural system runs on electricity produced by photosynthesis and respiration in natural photovoltaic cells and natural fuel cells, in chloropasts and mitochondria respectively, utilising the energy of the sun and oxidation and reduction reactions. Thus, whether it is sea weeds or fish, electricity is nevertheless generated and used(1.2 volts shockless and many hundreds of amperes of current). Apart from electricity, however, chemical potential gradient is also produced and used. Using electricity ATP is produced which is used as the energy currency of the living cell. In the Bay of Fundy ecosystem illustrated above, the total electrical and chemical energy that that would be produced and used, and this is important, utilised in such a way that the energy is preserved in cycles of use, in the marine ecosystem is equivalent to an electric generator of the order of 600 Megawatts(MW) power capacity. This corresponds to an energy turnover of 3100 to 3600 million kilowatthours annually to produce the diverse harvest of marine organisms. When man utilises this harvest, he must return his excrement corresponding to this use back to the sea. Thus would these plants, animals and people ' be joined in a sort of energy community.'(Hinkle and McCarty, 1978).
3.2 Effects of a Tidal Power Plant on the Ecosystem
What would be the effects on such an ecosystem by the development of a tidal barrage and a power plant? For example, the estimated electricity development in one location(Cobequid Bay in the Bay of Fundy area), was 4028 MW and 12600 GWH(million kwh) with a tidal range of 12.4 m using 106 turbines of 7.5 m diameter each. But after 15 years of the most comprehensive studies on all aspects including the ecological balance, the net result has been that, only a small Tidal Power Plant of 20 MW capacity at Annapolis in the Fundy area is being put up. The reason is that ecologically and environmentally, a huge Tidal Power Plant would change the whole tidal regime on the Northeast American sea coast with possibly catastrophic consequences for the bird populations and causing drainage problems(Daborn 1977). Similarly another committee found that the 7200 MW, 13000 GWH, mean tidal range 9.3 m Severn barrage, though technmically and economically feasible, to require further studies on its environmental acceptability(Birkett et all 1984). Nearer home, at the Gulf of Kutch, Kandla promises 600 MW at 1600 GWH annually with a mean tidal range of 5.2 m.
3.3 The Gulf of Kutch Tidal Area
Studies are afoot for a tidal power plant in the Gulf of Kutch. A newspaper report in the Free Press Journal(1984), envisages completion of the project by 1987(report submitted in 1988). The report mentions studies in many areas but ecological studies do not find a place. The project envisages construction of main dams across Hansthal creek, 3.1 km long, Sara creek, 0.7 km long and Phang creek, 0.5 km long. The area surveyed includes 1400 sq. kms of marshy land.
3.4 Living Energy in the Gulf of Kutch
The fabulous wealth of rich and diverse life in the Gulf of Kachchh presents a vivid picture of a thoroughly unified community disposing the awesome power of solar radiation and tides harmlessly while preserving energy in cycles of use, analogous to the Bay of Fundy Ecosystem(Chavan 1983). Some 55 coral species, marine worm-like animals, some of them found only in the Gulf of Kachchh, bottom dwelling forms, crustaceans like mud crab, Jumbo Lobster, Barnacles, some 200 species of invertebrates(snails, mussels, oysters and octopus), mammals(dolphins, whales), some 200 species of fishes, Reptiles(Green sea turtles, Black banded snakes), a huge number of fantastic birds, luxurient growth of mangroves, and unique land-building tropical shrubs-species that grow only in saline waters. Mangroves form one of the pivots of the marine ecosystem.
3.5 Destruction of the Gulf of Kachchh ecosystem by careless industrialisation.
This has caused devastation of marine habitats including mangroves. Misuse of marine flora and fauna,example living corals for plaster for homes, dredging sand for cement and destruction consequently of good coral areas, also around a Marine Park, encroaching by human habitat into the mangrove and mudflat area, industrial oil leaks, and road building on sand(Chavan 1983).
3.6 Kutch Tidal Power Plant must include comprehensive ecological studies.
Briefly the problem appears to be lack of knowledge of what would happen to the ecosystem, after construction of a battery of barrages in the Gulf of Kachchh as elsewhere- whether it would be catastrophic or not. this entails perhaps at least a decade long study of the bio geo chemical cycles such as on:
3.6.1. Physiography and ecological characteristics.
188.8.131.52 Geology and a thoroughly revised tectonic framework including effects of dams,
184.108.40.206 Tidal influences on the physical oceanography,
220.127.116.11 The climate,
18.104.22.168 The sediment regime,
22.214.171.124 Biological resources including
126.96.36.199 Intertidal resources,
188.8.131.52 Marine and estuarine sublittoral benthos,
184.108.40.206 Aspects of marine ecology relevant to tidal power,
220.127.116.11 Use by shorebirds.
18.104.22.168 Interrelationships of ecosystems and engineering aspects,
22.214.171.124 Effects on physical oceanography by tidal power development including climate change for 100 years
126.96.36.199 Effects of tidal power structures on sediment transport,
188.8.131.52 Earthquakes and climate change caused by dams
3.7 Harvesting of Living Energy Cycles in the Gulf of Kachchh
Simultaneously with the consideration of tidal power harnessing for the monoculture of electricity generation only, at the site, and its use elsewhere, must be considered the harvesting of living energy by man, preserving it in cycles of use. What is the present status of harvesting marine fish and other life for food? If life is not thriving in such a way that there exists balance between care and use, what steps have been taken to restore the original balance? For example, can we cite figures like we did for the Bay of Fundy? In any case, such a permanent mariculture striking a balance between plant, animal and human existence, is urgently to be implemented because it is immediately possible to do so. A healthy wholeness of creation is possible by 'responsible behaviour in the present' . Whether a tidal power plant preserves this system or enhances it, a detailed study may reveal. The chances are, by analogy with other tidally rich areas, a large tidal power plant would be ruled out. There is a decided complication, however on account of the global effect of the GHGs and the dams exacerbated by the nuclear power programmes and general profligacy of modern civilization's destruction of nature. The modern madness of the nuclear power programmes is revealed by its energy audit(See my website by clicking on my name here. We can no longer make long term studies based on the usual design norms because the reaction of the earth falls outside these design envelopes and hence the glaring lacunae in design is leading to catastrophic failures of modern infrastructure because of climate change effects. What implication this has on the ecosystem can be gleaned by the catastrophic sea and land creature mass deaths followed or preceded by earthquakes, high temperatures via surges of heat waves, flash floods, cloudbursts, cyclones, landslides persistently caused by dams and other greedy interventions into the biosphere including reckless consumptive mining sprees. Monitoring and studies on a global basis together with immediate conservation and life style change seems a must.
4.0 Ecology tells us and we are experiencing the interlinkages of all that is
The Bhagavadgita is timeless in its teachings that everything is interconnected and that the soil and the sea are the great connectors of all life. All diversity is within a universe. In general, man may use the energy of living systems by preserving energy in cycles of use, by recycling and via the sun. In this way man does not convert energy in such a way that he cannot use it again. This negentropic behaviour is via life presided over by the sun. In this way he need not create wastes which become pollutants. Or man can mechanically extract energy out of tides for example, by creating a reservoir behind a barrage, but in the process subjecting nature's thoroughly unified communities to degradation and the threat of destruction, by causing a catastrophic alteration in the tidal resources affecting fish migration and bird population.The consequences have to be carefully studied. Or in the process of extracting energy by fossil fuels, creating conditions which have far reaching adverse effects on tidal power or on other power development or even on the ecology of the whole planet itself. Or he may mistake natural living energy itself to be a storehouse of energy and start extracting mechanical energy and materials out of it- like from the forest(marine or otherwise) or from the bowels of the earth and destroy it. And again create ecological unbalances. He may consider man to be a mechanical slave- a machine in short and replace him by another seemingly quantitatively more effective monoculture- a 'cheap and fast machine' - replace the goose that lays the golden egg - and ultimately destroy the permanence of return - the very reason de etre of a community and of life itself. This may indeed happen when tidal power development or a nuclear power programme destroys the livelihood of fishermen along with the thriving ecosystem.
Nature typically depends for its strength on a web of resources rigidly interconnected by evolution happening daily. This is in contrast to man(part of nature) who typically in ignorance of true knowledge thinks of monoculture for his short term profits. Exceptions are the thousands of years old traditional Indian or Chinese farmer or the Amishes in the USA, to cite some rare species. Again and again when modern man considers therefore a particular development, he confronts with his monocultural proposal, a diversity of natural resources whose regime he would alter, thinking they are separate- a typical fallacy of thought and action in modern civilization- and hence face a situation new to nature- like in Fukushima or in Genetic Modification- and create a crisis. Previously, modern civilization's disparate actions had local effects and the benign margins of nature were capable of righting these. But now the margins have vanished and with them the factors of safety. Man's effects are being increasingly felt globally, witness how the dams for example are causing climate change worldwide with terrible consequences to modern ways of life, including nuclear explosion effects on infrastructure like nuclear reactors and setting buildings ablaze and causing mines to explode. In effect these are confirming the ageless prophecies of the Gita. This is because he feels in his ego-led personality, he is supreme and will see the consequences of interconnections of modern systems with nature at the conception stage of his creations and hence conquer nature and amass limitless profits forever. Hence he disregards the need to imitate nature beyond understanding and instead put his own proposals into effect without considering the true consequences. Somebody has already been there at work, in the past, in the present and will be there in the future- the harmony
of the universe. Look therefore closely at ecology and it may be that we should tune ourselves to Harmony, the Unity behind all that is.
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