|Alyssum Pohl: Writing & Professional Training Portfolio
For the first couple hundred miles, the Mississippi River, nicknamed Big Muddy, was actually crystal clear. I could see straight down to the bottom, 20 or 30 feet below. On glassy days, I actually felt some vertigo from being so far above the river bottom "up high" in my kayak. Since Grand Rapids, however, the river has earned it's nickname. This could be due to thunderstorms, eroding banks (as opposed to marsh), discharge from paper factory, etc. Some of the reasons we care about how clear a body of water is (it's turbidity or transparency) are because oxygen has a harder time dissolving into turbid water (making it harder for organisms to breathe), sunlight has difficulty penetrating the water column (making it more difficult for water plants to photosynthesize), and particles can clog gills (making it even more difficult for fish to breathe and reducing their ability to fight disease). Here's how you use a turbidity or transparency tube. It's very similar to a secchi disk, if you're familiar with that.
Alyssum Pohl is paddling the Mississippi River and documenting water quality and plastic waste along the way.