A stench that’s hard to swallow – unless you’re a swallow
August 2, 2011 § 5 Comments
Thanks to an email chain, I’ve been following this latest issue on Ballona Creek. A culvert connecting to lower Ballona Creek has become a bubbling cauldron of trouble. The culvert drains portions of West Los Angeles, as far north as Washington Boulevard, and joins Ballona Creek west of Centinela Avenue. Observers on the bike path noted white liquids discharging to the creek, setting off an email chain to identify the fluid and the source. It has taken a few months for an understanding of the source to emerge.
Turns out, the milky substance is being vaguely attributed by public officials to grunion. Grunion are running Ballona Creek? All the way up Ballona to this culvert, where grunion fluids are decomposing and creating a gnarly stench that is upsetting an entire neighborhood? I can only assume this means the grunion are somehow running the culvert, becoming trapped and dying in there.
The milky substance was later seen from yet another drain, decreasing the likelihood that there’s a serial dumper out there running from drain to drain. The assessment at this point remains that this is an organic substance caused by grunion.
To make matters more complicated, habitat-deprived barn swallows have been nesting in the culvert. (One wonders at their sense of smell) Officials seeking to stem the odor hung a curtain over the drain, and also sandbagged and flushed the drain – actions which would likely affect the swallow nests. And now, juvenile swallows have been observed in nearby drains, increasing the likelihood that our offending drain also has (or had) bambinos.
Having engineered the habitat, how do we engineer our way out of this conundrum? Here we see wildlife at their most adaptable, and yet the “habitat” is so unsuitable for long term sustainability. Looking forward to your thoughts.
Thanks to Rick Pine for generously sharing his photos. Additional documentation of his is posted here.