Thursday, July 30, 2015

University of Kentucky biology grad kayaking Mississippi River to document water quality

A University of Kentucky biology graduate is a little more than one month into a three month kayaking trip to traverse the Mississippi River in "an effort to educate people about water quality in America's lakes, rivers and oceans," Will Wright reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Alyssum Pohl, who began her journey on June 25, "will take water samples, document litter and help clean up beaches along the way. She'll submit some of her data to the Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, and she'll use some of it to write scholarly articles. She'll also share the data with each of the 10 states she travels through." (A selfie of Pohl on her journey)

Pohl is documenting her 2,500-mile trip on a blog, "Paddle On!," where she writes that she picks up an average of two to eight pieces of trash per day. As of July 19, only two days had passed during which she didn't see any trash.

"She said she has been surprised by the lack of trash in the water but disappointed by the amount of litter at campsites," Wright writes. She told him, "Every little bit of pollution . . . it all goes somewhere, and it all matters." Water samples Pohl collects will be compared with those of John Sullivan, a retired Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources biologist who canoed the Mississippi River in 2012 and 2013.

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