Algal blooms of doom #poetry #earthweal

Orange plumes of algae bloom
upon a sickened sea
now will you look the other way
or have you eyes to see?

It never was a healthy hue
in any ecosystem 
to those who say they had no clue 
I’d say ‘Perhaps you missed them:’

the beaches washed with jellyfish 
unthreatened by predation
but washed up in a blinding tide
of mad misinformation. 

The food chain breaks
the links are shot
the severed anchor plummets
we scramble to retrieve our lot
and fill our hungry stomachs.

The sharks die out
the tuna next
then molluscs and crusteceans
the rest of sealife follows fast
leaving an empty ocean.

It’s not too hard to figure out
if you have eyes to see;
ask not for whom the algae blooms:
it blooms for you and me.

© Experimentsinfiction 2021, All Rights Reserved

Written for earthweal

I went out for what was supposed to be a pleasant bike ride yesterday, only to find that the Adriatic Sea is turning orange. Is this in the news at all? Is it hell!

What I witnessed was a red tide: a harmful algal bloom most often caused by leaks of fertiliser in water. It is harmful to ocean life and humans. Not only does the climate crisis make their occurrence more likely, it also lessens our ability to deal with them.

And to think, only a few weeks ago I wrote ‘the earth does not look sick.’

Sharing this with earthweal’s open link weekend. I call on anyone reading to bear witness to the wanton destruction of the natural environment. We’re unlikely to read about this kind of thing in the news, so it’s up to us to spread the word however we can.

48 thoughts on “Algal blooms of doom #poetry #earthweal

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  1. It’s funny, actually, I was chatting only yesterday to a driend about a world where only nature permitted to survive by the human race actually thrives. Things like extinctions, loss of habitat is one thing, but so too e.g. fertilizer over marine life.

    1. We are destroying biodiversity and seem oblivious to the consequences: every species depends on so many others in order to survive.

      1. Oblivious. Dunno. That word seens almost almost to imply accidental, as though we shoud know but we don’t. It’s more a case on “I want more money” and fuck everything else.

      2. But I think a lot of people don’t realise how serious the situation is because we don’t hear much about it on the news, for example.

      3. Nah, they use that as an excuse so that one day they can say “I wish someone had told us”. Climate Change has been a thing since at least the 80s and Marvin even sang about ecology in 1970. I don’t think there are any excuses for not knowing.

      4. Well that’s certainly true. I remember seeing when Greta Thunberg was invited to Davos, Trump was still pres. I thought it was sad that more people in the room agreed with him than with her.

      5. Well they are the ones who hold all the cards at the moment. But I don’t think Greta’s generation will be so blind.

  2. My goodness, Ingrid, that is not the sort of thing you expect to see when out on a bike ride! I haven’t seen anything in the news and am glad you wrote about it. And thanks for explaining what a red tide is, I’d not heard of that either. I would have hoped that rules on fertliser would be stricter around the world, it’s been well-known for years just how dangerous it is to the environment and to wildlife.
    The ‘orange plumes of algae’ blooming ‘upon a sickened sea’ are striking, the perfect hook for an eco-poem. This is such a bleak prediction:
    ‘The sharks die out
    the tuna next
    then molluscs and crusteceans
    the rest of sealife follows fast
    leaving an empty ocean’
    and I love what you did with John Donne’s lines!

  3. Years back there was a nonfiction book “The Empty Ocean” about overfishing mainly, but the point that stuck with me is that the ocean on the surface looks the same no matter what, full or empty. You can’t see emptiness, and you can’t really know algae blooms until it’s thought, or written about as here. In Florida we have a terrible problem with red tide when agricultural runoff thick with phosphates gets into open water. Massive fish kills and empty waters. It’s horrible. In the last line, the words “for” and “in” are interchangeable. Well done – Brendan

  4. It is awful Ingrid. We frequently have Red Tide here in SW Florida. Devastating to see all the dead sea life but it is also bad for humans. You cannot be anywhere near the beach because it will affect your breathing. It is a natural” occurrence and not necessarily man made although the rising sea temperatures don’t help it and those are a result of human negligence 😕 I enjoyed your poem very much 💕

    1. Thank you Christine. I was looking forward to swimming in the sea this summer, but quite apart from my selfish concerns it is a worrying phenomenon 😳

  5. Your poem goes right to the hearts and minds of anyone who cares about the earth. Your closing lines are especially powerful. I cant even imagine what it was to come upon this orange phenomenon on your bike ride. A sick sea, a disconnected populace. Will people only wake up when there are no fish or anything else alive in the sea? Like you, I cant BELIEVE that this stuff is kept off the news, deliberately, I am sure, so that corporations can carry on destroying. Thank you for writing about this. We have to spread the word, and write letters of information and objection. People need to know.

  6. In Maine and Massachusetts red tide is due to poisonous waters and dead fish wash up on the shore. In Rhode Island they call it red tide due to the red seaweed, it’s not dangerous. Of course swimming in it can be a bit of a nuisance as it gets in your hair and bathing suit. At least it doesn’t kill the ocean life.

    1. Here I think unfortunately it’s the poisonous kind. There were a few people standing at the shore looking bewildered by it.

  7. Ingrid, eloquently expressed! Our red tides in SW Florida aeresolize and can cause respiratory distress, gastrointestinal problems, and skin irritations. Red tides result in fish kill, and death of endangered marine animals such as manatees and sea turtles.They release neurotoxins that can blow up to 10 miles inland. We moved away from the beach last year to escape red tide.

    Red tide is a manmade problem. Agricultural runoff and sewage cause an overgrowth of naturally-occuring algae. Florida also is subject to toxic blue-green algae overgrowths in rivers from the same cause. This algae can cause permanent liver damage.

    I hope people have the will to stop the pollution that results in red tides. Thank you, Ingrid, for posting on this topic.

    All the best!

    1. I’m so sorry to hear this Cheryl, but I am glad we are uniting in calling out this terrible pollution and joining voice across the world!

  8. This is a problem in the US too, as Brendan noted. The coral reefs are dying and the oceans are full of plastic and chemicals. It’s disheartening to say the least. All we seem to be concerned about is using artificial means to save expensive beachfront houses from the storms caused by climate change…(K)

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