Now it’s the lobsters. What’s next?
We’ve been having some pretty freakish weather of late.
No winter to speak of. Little cold. Less snow.
Goodie, goodie. Sort of. Until we think about the short term implications: more fires (the ground cover’s tinder-dry), more rats (they breed more in a warm winter), more bugs (ditto).
Let alone the long term implications. (That would be a big, fat YIKES!)
Last week it was 80 degrees. Shorts and flip-flops. Magnolias in bloom.
We had our first tulip unfurl.
Usually it’s in the mid-forties at this time of year, and we see some crocuses.
But last week was the sort of week we usually get in late April, at which point spring, having sprung, pulls back and it becomes “seasonable.” I.e., a lot cooler than 80 degrees.
While everyone’s enjoying the balmy balm, everyone I talk to is also freaked out by it. Scared about whether we’ve reached the tipping point, and that this is the new normal.
I ran into a friend who lives up The Hill. We live on The Flat of The Hill. On ground that, 150 years ago, was a salt water bay. If the ocean starts rising… Well, it won’t exactly be Bangladesh, but, I do think Waterworld.
“You guys had better sell,” he told me. “Just a matter of time.”
Nothing I haven’t thought of before but, hey, now is just not a convenient time to do anything about it.
All this weird weather has been bad enough, but at least we get to enjoy the magnolias a month or so early.
There’s really nothing to enjoy about the latest news on the shellfish front.
Lobsters, it seems, are increasingly being struck by a bacterial infection that results in their shells going soft. When you boil them – and is not cracking the claw of a boiled lobster a New England birth right? - the shells do not turn a red as bright and shiny as Rudolph’s nose. Instead, they present with a “speckled, scabby brown crust thin enough to poke a fork through.” (Source: Boston Globe.)
Gag me with a lobster pick and stuff a plastic bib in after it.
While scabby soft-shelled lobster – try rebranding that one and suckering the unwitting tourists in – have not been definitively tied to climate change, the evidence is pointing at us:
Scientists at the New England Aquarium are concerned that the combination of warmer waters and human-generated pollution are triggering the disease, and that the same combination of effects might threaten other species.
“As we impact the marine environment, bacteria are the next thing we really need to understand,’’ said Michael F. Tlusty, director of research at the New England Aquarium.
It’s not just New England lobsters, of course.
Apparently, we’ve given right whales giardia, and are infecting otters through some crud passed into the ecosystem through flushable kitty litter.
The good news, lobster-wise, is that the soft-serve lobster problem isn’t impacting all of New England. The waters south of Cape Cod have gotten warmer, with an increasing number of days when the water temperature gets above 68 degrees Fahrenheit – the “magic number” at which our crustacean buddies start to stress out. But the Gulf of Maine is staying pretty darned cold. (How cold is that? Every single time I’ve stuck my toe in the ocean water in Maine, my heart has stopped and I’ve gone into thermal shock. Well, almost, anyway.)
So far this year, southern tier New England lobstermen are apparently not seeing that much lobster shell disease. Which, economically speaking, is a good thing for the lobstermen since the yucky looking lobsters, which can only be used for things like lobster bisque and lazy-man lobster, don’t command much in the market.
Who’da thunk that that looks would matter this far down in the food chain, but there you have it.
Anyway, one more thing, environment-wise to fret about.
It’s not exactly in a category with the last polar bare balancing on an ice floe the size of a picnic blanket. Still, one more indicator that, at some point, we ARE going to have to get serious about what we’re doing to our fair earth.
What’s the magical thinking that keeps us in denial about the planet’s changing? I’m not talking about those who dispute the magnitude of what’s caused by human activity vs. what’s “naturally occurring.” I’m talking about those who put down the very idea that this is anything to be concerned about. After all, we’ve had ice ages before….
To which I would say, gee, if we had 3 billion people living in the path of the coming glacier – as opposed to 3 hundred dinosaurs – don’t you think it would have been a good idea to try to do something about it and not just wait until we found ourselves stuck in permafrost?
But, hey, we trash this version of home sweet home? As e.e. cummings wrote in this poem “Pity this busy monster, manunkind:”
listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go
So, I guess, absent the ability to have a coherent and rational discussion about what man hath wrought, we just keep on hoping and praying that Elon Musk’s space colonization dreams come to fruition. Not that all kabillion of us are going to fit on those 21st century arks, and I doubt I’ll be among the chosen few. (See yah.)
Meanwhile, if someone suggests that you eat a lobster while blindfolded this summer, don’t do it! Boiled lobster is bright red and hard to crack. Accept no scabby, soft-shelled substitute. That bibs for the dripping butter and the “juice” in the legs, not for averting your eyes.