I went fishing the other day and ran into a sign warning of infestation of an "invasive species" of diatom called rock snot or Didymosphenia geminata and how it was ruining my favorite recreational activity. We have this crucial election coming up which will determine the fate of the nation and now we have to worry about rock snot. Oh joy!
Anyway, my curiosity (as with all things) led me to the internet to find out as much as I can about this "new" menace. Apparently, there is much concern around the world with nearly all the "experts" placing the blame squarely on human recreational activity as the "primary" transport mechanism.
Why indict human activity? It's claimed that it only takes a single cell to start an infestation. Only a single cell, so what about waterfowl? To date, I've only found a single one that even mentions waterfowl as a possible means of spreading the organism and nothing in any of the damnations of human recreation to even suggest those cute ducks and geese of committing such an atrocity.
The funny thing is that there's another invasive species called the water chestnut and it's well known to be transported by waterfowl, but not even considered for rock snot by most folks? Hmmm.
So in my search for truth, I found there are many references to the "invasions" being most prevalent downstream of dams where the water flow is regulated. So perhaps human activity does have something to do with the invasion. But many dams have been there for many years, so why is this invasion showing up now? Where was it before? After all, rock snot was first reported in Flathead Lake, Montana, in 1929. So it apparently took over 70 years for fishermen to transport it east of the Mississippi and now it's spreading like wildfire. Yup, I'm buying that.
Others have pointed to climate change as a trigger. But wait! Isn't the primary concerns of global climate change associated with warming trends? How does that explain a species originating from colder environs suddenly becoming extremely prolific in warmer waters? (Thoughful pause)
With the maturation of the internet and availability of information, I'd expect people to get smarter, but that apparently isn't so. Here's the best report I've found so far concerning this new bogeyman. It's well worth the read to show how little they (as in all the experts claiming to know what's going on) know about what this is, why this is happening, and what its effects will be. Basically, there are many conflicting reports and statements. It's been reported that many of the troublesome blooms died off after a few years. I'm not sure, but it may have always been there and something changed which triggered these blooms.
So can all the warnings to fisherman and other recreational users merely be an exercise of futility issued by experts without all the facts? Probably so. Who knows, perhaps if it gets bad enough, some enterprising individual may find a way to commercially harvest it and turn it into fertilizer, cow feed, or perhaps something to sprinkle on your linguini. If the Japanese can figure out how to turn human waste into something edible... then what's to say the rock snot invasion is a bad thing? There will probably be much more discussion about this phenomenon as they start putting more pieces together, but until then ~ Diatom steak, anyone?