New study shows U.S. losing coastal wetlands at alarming rate - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

New study shows U.S. losing coastal wetlands at alarming rate

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

The United States is losing coastal wetlands at an alarming rate. That's the finding of a new study done by NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The study also found the vast majority of wetlands loss in America is along the Gulf Coast. We're losing 80,000 acres of wetlands each year in this country.  That's up more than 33 percent from the 60,000 acres of annual wetlands loss during the previous study four years earlier.

"Data has shown, especially in the northern Gulf of Mexico, in Louisiana, the coastal wetlands have been losing, I think there's some data to show that in one day, like a football field. The rate is pretty high," said Dr. Wei Wu, an assistant professor at Gulf Coast Research Lab, who studies landscape ecology.

Some of the wetlands loss is natural, from storms and erosion. But manmade factors also contribute; things like water diversion.

"We don't have deposition, the annual deposition that we used to have historically to build the wetlands up. Now with water diversion, all that sediment is being channelized and being carried offshore," says Dr. Robert Leaf, whose area of study at GCRL is fisheries biology.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of healthy wetlands in this area is seafood. Wetlands serve as a unique nursery for shrimp, crabs and a variety of fish species. Healthy seafood is a product of healthy wetlands; which raises concern about losing them.

"Protection now more than ever. Because we're realizing that with a greater population, with greater demand on our natural resources, we have to protect the habitats that are contributing the most to those," said Dr. Leaf.

Regulating development along the immediate coastline is one way to mediate the manmade impact.

As for finding other ways to slow the tremendous loss of wetlands, that's a difficult issue.

"I think it's a really good question. We all want to know the answers, but I'm not sure I have the answer," said Dr. Wu, "There's a lot of research we need to do."

Dr. Wu says wetlands are actually studied far less than other upland habitats like forests or mountains.    

Here's an interesting fact about wetlands: Though wetlands make-up less than 10 percent of the country's land area, they support 75 percent of our migratory birds and 80 percent of fish and shellfish.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • South Carolina news on WIStv.comNEWSMore>>

  • Subtropical Storm Alberto heads to the US Gulf

    Subtropical Storm Alberto heads to the US Gulf

    Saturday, May 26 2018 5:23 AM EDT2018-05-26 09:23:12 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 3:15 PM EDT2018-05-26 19:15:00 GMT
    A gradual strengthening is expected through the weekend as Alberto moves north. (Source: NOAA/CIRA/RAMMB/CNN)A gradual strengthening is expected through the weekend as Alberto moves north. (Source: NOAA/CIRA/RAMMB/CNN)

    A storm moving slowly through the Caribbean Sea is threatening to bring heavy rainfall, mudslides, and flash floods to parts of Mexico, Cuba, Florida and the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend.

    More >>

    A storm moving slowly through the Caribbean Sea is threatening to bring heavy rainfall, mudslides, and flash floods to parts of Mexico, Cuba, Florida and the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend.

    More >>
  • Amid anti-immigrant sentiment, some Spanish speakers wary

    Amid anti-immigrant sentiment, some Spanish speakers wary

    Saturday, May 26 2018 2:14 PM EDT2018-05-26 18:14:01 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 3:14 PM EDT2018-05-26 19:14:52 GMT
    (AP Photo/Chris Carlson). Lilly Mucarsel, a native of Ecuador, poses for a picture in her office Friday, May 25, 2018, in Tustin, Calif. Mucarsel, 62, of Southern California finds herself reverting to English when she attends a baseball game or goes to...(AP Photo/Chris Carlson). Lilly Mucarsel, a native of Ecuador, poses for a picture in her office Friday, May 25, 2018, in Tustin, Calif. Mucarsel, 62, of Southern California finds herself reverting to English when she attends a baseball game or goes to...

    The Trump administration's harsh rhetoric and tougher policies toward immigrants have made some Spanish speakers self-conscious about speaking other languages in public.

    More >>

    The Trump administration's harsh rhetoric and tougher policies toward immigrants have made some Spanish speakers self-conscious about speaking other languages in public.

    More >>
  • More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

    More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

    Saturday, May 26 2018 9:33 AM EDT2018-05-26 13:33:35 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 3:14 PM EDT2018-05-26 19:14:36 GMT
    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court in Washington is seen at sunset. A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through the courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the...(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court in Washington is seen at sunset. A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through the courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the...

    A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and that'll continue, no matter what the Supreme Court decides in the case of a baker who wouldn't create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

    More >>

    A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and that'll continue, no matter what the Supreme Court decides in the case of a baker who wouldn't create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly