Category Archives: ENGLISH 3113

Extra Credit (Eating Vegan)

First of all, I’ve never even considered becoming a vegetarian, much less a vegan prior to this class. After learning about the complete lack of respect when the treatment of animals is involved, I’ve changed my thoughts quite a bit. Now going from meat and dairy consisting in each of my meals, the change to eating vegan for 2 days was extremely hard for me. Interested and motivated, I decided to give it a try anyways.

The first day, Wednesday, I woke up craving my everyday chocolate-chip pancakes. I then realized that today was the day I’d begin my two-day challenge of eating vegan, but still thought pancakes were okay. I was wrong. After researching, I found that my pancakes were not vegan, and I thought to myself… “No eggs, no dairy, hmm, what else is there to eat?” Then it clicked, OATMEAL! After checking that the oatmeal was cleared to eat, I ate my breakfast and went on about my day. Unfortunately, the next problem arose at lunchtime, as I typically eat some sort of chicken or something containing dairy products. I decided on organic noodles and pasta sauce, after checking that they fit the requirements as well!

I felt satisfied at my accomplishments for the day, though I hadn’t really eaten healthy, but I still ate vegan. That’s when I realized that I needed something else to eat on break at work. Since I work in the Pharmacy, I decided to just buy something there that was vegan. On break, I searched up and down the aisles and what I found that looked amazing was an “Amy’s” dinner. The dinner was vegan, and consisted of organic noodles, tofu, and vegetables with a sauce. It surprised me that the dinner was actually good, as I’ve always associated eating vegan as eating gross foods.

Thursday I thought the process would be a little easier, and indeed it was. I had the same oatmeal for breakfast, and one of my roommates made some tofu with roasted vegetables for lunch. For dinner, I bought a veggie burger, and of course avoided adding the usual cheese. In all honesty, the burger didn’t taste too good. I blame that on it being cooked in the microwave, and I will try it again in the future. That night I also bought some vegan ice cream, which I didn’t know was actually a thing. The ice cream I tried was the So Delicious Dairy-free Soymilk Creamy Vanilla. I loved this choice so much, and I recommend it as an alternative to the typical dairy ice cream. The ice cream didn’t taste much different than regular ice cream, and actually tasted creamier to me.

I’d say this was definitely a life-learning lesson. I had no idea that eating vegan could actually be easy if shopping at the right stores and researching appropriately. I’ve found that many vegan dinners are actually just as good as meat dinners, and I feel that if I continued eating this way I’d agree further. I have been to many Whole Foods Markets and Trader Joe’s in my life, and I definitely feel that when I am financially able to eat as a vegetarian, that I will at least do that. I’ve also found that many videos on youtube can be extremely helpful on amazing options for both vegans and vegetarians, as well as having a partner to eat the same with you is a huge key. The treatment of animals has changed my views on a lot of different things, and supporting those companies that treat animals that way is just wrong.

Rise in Communication Expectations

As I turned onto the long narrow driveway in Royse City, thick trees obscured my view of what lay before me. I didn’t know what to expect as I approached the Rowe’s Ranch anticipating to observe their style of horse training. As I peered through the trees to get a quick glimpse, I witnessed an extensive herd of young horses peacefully grazing. My next glimpse consisted of a stunning Palomino gelding gracefully loping a circle with rider aboard (Shelby). Maybe that seems ordinary, but what happened next, the average horse and rider do not have as strong enough relationship to endure. As Shelby reached forward and released both the bridle and bit from the gelding’s mouth, my jaw dropped. She continued on in a rhythmic manner urging the gelding to jump a monstrous log that lay ahead, and he jumped it with ease. This beautiful demonstration continued with breathtaking jumps, turns, and even an ending bow. The trust between these two gleamed with every step the horse took, and the leisurely communication corresponded with tremendous relaxation in the horse. Pondering, I came to the realization that such beauty had to begin with the young grazers, and must be in accordance to the training technique she followed. That realization is one that changed my training technique, as well as my appreciation and acceptance of natural horsemanship.

The training method Shelby follows while raising her horses is termed as natural horsemanship. She thoroughly explained the process and that “it is primarily based around mutual communication, trust, and respect between the horse and rider” (Rowe, 2016). For human kind, communication relies heavily on how accurately one party exchanges information with the other party. Similarly, horses are trained to team with the rider and compete in hundreds of different events via communication. Not only are horses trained for a wide variety of events, but also they’re being trained through many different techniques. As a barrel racer, Shelby described that “the way they’re trained can impact their performance greatly, as well as their relationship and communication with the rider.” Many training techniques require beating the horse into submission, while the best training techniques adjust human handling to the horse’s natural way of learning and communicating. Natural horsemanship changes the way communication is perceived from the trainer to the horse, and allows the horse to obtain a better understanding of what the trainer wants (Birke, 2008). The exceptional understanding grown from natural horsemanship leads to a more profound relationship between horse and rider, as well as a more consistent performance base (Birke, 2008).

Horses revolve around their natural instincts, which they’ve learned throughout maintaining life in the wild. Clinton Anderson, successful natural horseman, summarized the natural instincts of a horse in the herd and how their communication between each other can be carried on into training (Anderson and Meyer, 2011). In herds, horses communicate almost entirely via body language (Anderson and Meyer, 2011). The sudden lowering of the head with the ears pinned back is the defendant’s first, assertive attempt to urge the other horse to get away (Anderson and Meyer, 2011). If the horse still refuses to move, the horse will then continue to up the threat of aggression to a bite, or even a butt turn and kick (Anderson and Meyer, 2011). Since humans are equipped with such a vocal language, we as horsemen can simply adjust our communication skills by focusing primarily on body language. To do so, the trainer should actively look directly at the horse with squared shoulders when they want the horse to pay attention, and use passive language (no staring and one leg cocked) when relaxation is wanted (Anderson and Meyer, 2011). Relaying our body language the way horses perceive language naturally develops a much more relaxed horse in learning. Though there are many training techniques relaxing the horse, there are many that insist on forcing the horse through human language.

As the genetic makeup of the horse changes through the evolving species, Temple Grandin (consultant on animal behavior) responded that the horse bases their emotion and response systems around both flight and fear (Grandin, 2009). Based on the high flight response, horses are extremely sensitive to their surroundings, and if not approached in the correct manner can freak out instantly (Grandin, 2009). This coincides directly to the use of body language, as approaching the horse (determined by body language) can be a huge deciding factor on if the fear or flight systems are activated (Grandin, 2009). In a series of three experiments to test the horses’ responses to variation in human approach, researchers found that horses have an important egocentric spatial barrier (Birke et. al., 2011). This study concluded that the personal space is a contributing factor to their flight response system, as well as the speed by which they’re approached (Birke et. al., 2011). Due to the reliance that horses aren’t born tame and maintain spatial barriers, the first training methods used by the trainer can impact the horse for the rest of their life.

The reason training methods affect the horse is due to the possible development of a fear memory through two causes. The first cause is past abusive situations, while the other is introducing new sensations too quickly (Grandin, 2009) Unfortunately, an old, cruel method of training that produces these fear memories in horses remains in use by many trainers today (Grandin, 2009). The cruel method is termed sacking out a horse and entails throwing things at the horse quickly and aggressively (Grandin, 2009). Temple Grandin explains the scenario as the trainer taking a yearling with a strong halter and ties it up to a sturdy post. They then proceed to throw tin cans, blankets, sacks, etc. at the horse with great strength (Grandin, 2009). I don’t know everyone’s thoughts, but to me, that is beating a horse by cruel punishment while insisting that it’s only a way to socialize the horse with all surroundings, NOT training. Some of the horses that undergo this beating become traumatized which affects their already high fear response to uncontrollable levels and creates fear memories (Grandin, 2009). Once developed, fear memories are tricky because while they can be tolerated with proper training, they will never fully disappear (Grandin, 2009). It’s sickening that a trainer would willingly beat their horse until the horse gives in, and process the event as successful.

The old-style of training through beating has produced fearful horses with an extreme lack of trust to human kind, resulting in a lower level of respect and willingness. On the contrary to cruel horse training, natural horsemanship has evolved to change the way of communication between horse and trainer. Natural horsemanship correlates to horse whispering and entails the trainer to change their approach with communication and training to that of the horses’ natural instincts in the wild. In order to promote correct behavior, pressure and the release of pressure are typically utilized during natural training (Birke, 2008). There are many different methods and approaches within the categories of natural horsemanship, which together develop a successful, strong relationship (Birke, 2008).

One of the most well known programs involving natural horsemanship is called Parelli. This program was founded by Pat Parelli in 1981 and designed to promote horsemanship skills based on observations of horse behavior, psychology, and communication (Parelli, 2016). One of the most successful processes to begin natural horsemanship is with Parelli’s Seven Games (Parelli, 2016). The seven games consist of the following: friendly, porcupine, driving, yo-yo, circling, sideways, and squeeze games (Parelli, 2016). All of the games are based around the natural horse interaction in herds to establish communication and dominance (Parelli, 2016). In each game a new technique based directly from the horses’ instincts is utilized through personnel training (Parelli, 2016). Throughout these games, the horse and rider develop such a strong language and provide a strong foundation for all of the following skill levels learned in training both in and out of the saddle (Parelli, 2016). According to the Parelli’s, these seven games develop the horses’ confidence in new surroundings, as a learner, in you as the trainer, and among other horses (Parelli, 2016). With thousands of success stories, four different facilities in different countries, and a lifetime of fixing horse problems, Pat Parelli and his crew are definitely of utmost importance in the horsemanship world. His ideas and observations have extensively changed horse training for the better.

As curiosity on natural horsemanship sank into my mind, I quickly found time to head home and encounter these experiences myself with my majestic young, black mare. Before attempting any of the seven games she constantly yanked at her halter when being walked as if saying, “human, you don’t own me.” Sassy as she is, I was on a mission to build a level of respect, trust, and communication with her. I worked the games in order, beginning with the friendly game. The first day, I slowly worked with a rope and agreeing on thresholds. She showed slight signs of doubt as I tossed the rope around her legs by inching away in disgust, so I accepted the success, backed away, and congratulated her with a carrot. By the second day, I was able to toss the rope anywhere around her, with her complete trust and relaxation. As of the current time, I’ve only completed the first game with her and I plan to continue and complete all seven. With the friendly game down, my sassy mare has already showed a tremendous increase in respect. She’s shown this through her bad habit of pulling on the halter at home diminishing, only occurring at rodeos where her nerves are worked up. Not only has her respect increased from the beginning of training, but also her barrel time has been shaved down 0.3 seconds. That may not sound like any improvement, but to a competitive barrel racer, any hundredth to tenth of a second is a huge success. In time, I’m convinced the use of natural horsemanship will replenish any fears in my mare, and provide her with full trust in me.

Horses solely strive to please the human; therefore, there is absolutely no excuse for trainer’s utilizing methods that place the horse in such fear that their brain is corrupted. Although the old style of training still exists, many advocates are trying to reach out to the horse world on the importance of natural horsemanship. Natural horsemanship is an outstanding training method in which the horse feels the most comfortable by valuing their natural instincts. Horses are brilliant animals, and when the human performs communication primarily based on and around the horses’ instincts, the emotional state of the horse will flourish. Not only will the horse be more stable, but the horse will potentially perform at a higher level of willingness. Natural horsemanship resembles pure beauty at it’s finest, and with that I appreciate each and every individual who takes the time to pursue in this immaculate base for training. Looking back in the rearview mirror, the Rowe’s Ranch had the biggest impact on my decision to attempt natural horsemanship, and I hope that many competitive trainers and riders will look into the advancement in training. With that I drove away from the Rowe’s Ranch into the dusky night sky, dreaming of natural horsemanship in it’s prime beauty, and just how much it could change horses on a competitive level.

















Works Cited

Anderson Clinton and J. Forsberg Meyer. “Use Your Body to Communicate.” Practice Pen. Clinton Anderson’s Philosophy. Horse and Rider. (2011): 22-23. 9 April 2016.

Birke Lynda, Hockenhull Jo, Creighton Emma, Pinno Lisa, Mee Jenny, and Daniel Mills. “Horses’ Responses to Variation in Human Approach.” Applied Animal Behavior Science. 134.1-2 (2011): 56-63. Science Direct. 9 April 2016.

Birke, Lynda. “Talking about Horses: Control and Freedom in the World of Natural Horsemanship.” Society & Animals. 16.2 (2008): 107-126. Books and Journals. 9 April 2016.

Grandin, Temple, and Catherine Johnson. “Horses.” Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. 105-36. Print.

Rowe, Shelby. Personal Interview. 9 April 2016.

“The Seven Games.” Parelli Natural Horsemanship. Parelli Savvy Club, 2015. Web. 9 April 2016.

Ethical Treatment of Animals as the Only Option

The cruel treatment of animals is an extreme problem that many people do not take into account during everyday life. For starters, the unethical treatment animals encounter branch out further than abuse in homes and/or domesticated life. The problems arise in slaughter houses, and other housing similar to raise animals to slaughter. Now some may think that domesticated animals are the only ones that matter, but that’s far from the truth. Animals that are not as domesticated as say the average dog, provide huge meaning in this life, we need them.
Cows and chickens are two of the animals that receive unethical treatment during their lifespan. Before reading Temple Grandin’s book, I honestly had no idea just how bad these animals were treated. They basically raise the animals in many places solely to kill them for food. What’s even worse is that the treatment they receive during their “fattening” to slaughter is disgusting, wrong, and needs to be outlawed.
As stated above, I believe that unethical treatment of ANY animal is completely wrong, and should come with some sort of punishment. No human deserves to be treated in such an ill way leading up to death, so why are animals treated unethically?

The problem of unethical treatment of animals could be minimized greatly if the public became more aware. If Temple Grandin’s points of view developed worldwide, I feel that people could relate to animals more, and provide a more well-rounded approach to how they treat them. Not only are her thought processes similar to an animals, but she also puts herself in their shoes, so to speak.

Although the treatment of cattle is regulated, I think the regulations should be further looked into. Furthermore, chickens don’t even have any regulations? That’s beyond disturbing, as the thought of just how bad they are treated makes me sick. These animals provide food on the table for humans around the world, so shouldn’t we treat them with love and respect? There is no reason why they should be mistreated through their short life solely to save money for the rancher. What many ranchers don’t know is that ethical treatment of these animals is likely more effective, and potentially will even save money in the long run.
In order to provide better conditions for these animals, I think Temple Grandin’s layout for cow slaughter houses should be followed. Chickens should be fenced in, but allowed to roam the land outside. Hitting them, or approaching them destructively only makes the animals more tense, and ends up with worse actions. All animals should basically be treated as you’d want to be treated if you were in their same situation. If that can’t be achieved, there should be punishment to the cruel facilities and/or humans.

Animals are on this Earth for a reason, and there’s only positive reasoning for why they should be treated in an ethical manner. To ensure ethical treatment, the public needs to become more aware, and regulations need to be adjusted, as well as monitored closely. To keep actions correct, there should be punishment to those who refuse to follow, even if the punishment is only shutting down their facility until they can follow the rules and regulations.

Sexual Politics of Meat

Reading a section from a book written by feminist antiviolence activist, Carol Adams was extremely interesting in many different ways. She’s been a successful author for several different influential essays on feminism, animal rights, vegetarianism, and the relationship between domestic violence and abuse to animals. Due to her strong views and large variety of thoughts perceived through the different essays and books, she’s a credited author with information that needs to be relayed. In this particular book, she discussed how sexism, racism, and classism are adjacent to meat consumption, so to speak.

At the beginning of the text, I find it intriguing about the paintings found in the basements. Henry VII was pictured eating a steak and kidney pie, while his six wives and all the other women were shown with fruits, cabbage, and other products containing no meat. That then brought the point across that people with power have always eaten meat, and that meat is a masculine food. In the following section, the author suggested that women have been starving at crazy rates disproportionate to men (Adams). That then led to the explanation of Ethiopian women being forced to make two different meals, one for males, and the other typically containing no meat for the females. That’s crazy due to the fact that men require less protein than women pregnant or nursing.

Another interesting aspect brought up was the reflections from cookbooks that portray men eat meat. Typically, most cookbooks address the men in the meat section, as well as not including meat on featured foods for Mother’s Day. In contrast, for Father’s Day, cookbooks suggested a large broil that should include steak for the father. I’ve never thought or compared that distinction in cookbooks from that time, so that’s just something I found interesting. Basically, the section focused on the hierarchy suggesting that even in poverty situations the meat is given to the man.

Turning from the previous topic, the next section provided information on the racial politics of meat. Honestly, I didn’t even know that this was a “thing,” or ever has been a “thing.” This focused on the racism requirements powering arrangements that customize towards the white culture. The two beliefs discussed included that if meat supply is limited the white people should get it, and if meat is plentiful everyone should eat it (Adams). This sprung forth the hierarchy of meat protein in standards of race, class, and sex.

The moral of the story is that meat provides a masculine touch to men, as well as creates many different issues involving racism, sex, and gender. The more important someone was, determined whether or not they ate meat, carbohydrates, fruits, or something along those lines. When terms of vegetarianism are brought up, many people think that men are challenging the masculine role, and they just shouldn’t do that. What’s so different from a women being a vegetarian than a man? There really should be no difference.

After reading this section from the book, I’ve learned a lot of new things about the sexual politics of meat. Although I knew of the struggle of equality between genders, I honestly didn’t know there were that many ties between meat consumption and racism and sexism. I thought the author did a very good job getting the information across in a coherent, factual manner. She provided the reader with insightful information about politics involving meat, and definitely helped my understanding!

Temple Grandin Open Reply

In the readings from Temple Grandin’s book, “Animals Make Us Human,” I’ve developed a complete sense of respect for her, her knowledge, and the points she brings through to the readers. It’s obvious by the chapters I’ve read thus far that Grandin has a well-rounded base for knowledge on animals, and is a reliable source for information on any of the animals written about thus far.

Although I’ve owned dogs, cats, horses, and cows (all which we’ve read about thus far), I estimate that I knew less than half of the information she has shared. Interestingly, all animals are extremely similar, while also being very different at the same time. For example, both cows and horses have a strong FEAR system, however, cows flight response is much less than that of a horse.

I’ve also developed a clear understanding about positive and negative reinforcements used during training. It’s interesting to me that while positive reinforcements are best for cats, dogs could be trained through negative reinforcements to greater understand the situation. Both horses and cows are typically more reachable through the use of negative and positive reinforcements. One major key when using negative reinforcements is to use them correctly and not to any mistreatment level. Training an animal the correct way is important, because the training techniques will be the base of handling treatment for the rest of their lives.

Throughout this reading, I’ve also learned that training any animal involves either positive or negative reinforcements to be more successful. I’ve had plenty of experience training horses throughout life, and I knew the techniques on the training and why I was doing it that way, but it never clicked back to me that the techniques were derived based on the horses natural instincts and habituation living. I’ve also trained my own dogs throughout life, and have been successful at teaching them tricks and how to behave for the most part. However, I find it extremely helpful understanding Grandin’s view on their emotions, behavior, and why they do the things they do, and how to fix it (sometimes).

The two latest chapters on horses and cows focused on the larger animals, and distinguished many of the actions between breeds, and how genetics may affect certain behaviors. I find it saddening that both of these large animals are beaten into different behavior types solely to force the animal to do something in an extremely wrong manner. That really breaks my heart, because I own both of these large animals, and to think that anyone could mistreat an animal to any extent is completely ridiculous.

I’ve absolutely enjoyed every bit of this book, and I think it’s given me a way better insight on all the animals she discussed, as well as animals in general. Animals are a very important part of life, and they deserve to be treated that way. The knowledge that Grandin passes on should be cherished and understood by everyone in this world. If everyone understood animals to the extent that Temple Grandin does, this world would be such a beautiful place to own, raise, and adore animals despite their jobs.

Assignment #3

In preparation for assignment #3, I have a few major ideas. Two of my ideas are written reports, while one is a video. All of my ideas thus far have focused on horses, and I will most likely end up writing or recording my assignment on one of the following.

The video idea I have is iffy due to my lack of experience with video creation and technology in general. If I can figure out all of the details, I really want to follow through with a video.  I wanted to research and discuss the relationship between horse and rider/owner. I wanted to introduce the parelli seven games in a broad manner, and then discuss each of the games. When introducing the games, I wanted to in depth discuss each game as I try to back up the voice with my horse performing them. I’ve been working on the seven games with my horses over spring break, and I’d love to somehow incorporate my experience, my thoughts, and my turnouts along with professionals, other horse riders, and anyone involved with horses who have information or experience in this area. I would provide literature data by incorporating Temple Grandin’s book, Animals Make Us Human. Grandin provides interesting points in relation to horse behavior, which could really fall hand in hand with parelli and the seven games. Furthermore, I wanted to develop ideas on how the parelli and behavioral help leads to a better horse all around, and how it relates to competitive events that the horse may perform.
For example, discuss the effect that parelli has made on any of my barrel horses if any, and how their behavior has changed, if at all.

The first writing idea follows the thought process for the video, just in writing form. I basically wanted to accomplish the same ideas, answers, and information about the relationship a horse has with a rider along with their behavior. Along with the relationship, I was going to discuss the parelli games, and experiences. For this assignment, I would also use Temple Grandin’s book. Along with the book, I’d add several scholarly sources found online, and discuss more in depth the relationship and how exactly relationships are formed this strongly with horses.

The second writing idea involves a big part of my first assignment. I wanted to provide a more research based paper discussing horse therapy and how it works. Horse therapy has always really interested me, as I can see the effect horses have on me, and relate somewhat to those requiring more therapy. I wanted to once again use Grandin’s book, however, incorporating different degrees of information from it. In this paper I also wanted to include the following:

  1. What horse therapy is
  2. How horse therapy works
  3. The psychological aspect behind horse therapy
  4. How the horse triggers positive emotions in humans
  5. Interviews from anyone currently receiving horse therapy due to an illness

Besides the listed 5 items, I basically wanted to discuss as many aspects of horse therapy as possible, while keeping the topic narrow.

Although I haven’t decided exactly what assignment #3 will discuss in concrete, I have many good ideas that I’ve thought about. Since all of my ideas involve the use of Temple Grandin’s book and around the same topic, I should have plenty of time to read more in depth and decide which category the book can help me in the most.

Beware of the Red Tide

The Gulf of Mexico provides a dazzling coastline for many southern states including Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. When compared to California and Florida, the Lone Star State of Texas may not be first choice of coastline beaches. However, Texas claims to grasp tourism and attention due to the vast majority of nature and mouthwatering food. Along with outstanding food selection, recreational activities typically take place along the Texas coast, causing large masses of people to gather and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The not so fortunate side of nature occurs when harmful organisms place the coast in a state of danger, affecting tourism and food selections. Not only can the food become contaminated, but also the water itself becomes toxic to drink, swim in, or house marine life effectively. Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are the names of such organisms, and they pose a great danger to humans, marine life, tourism, and the gulf coast safety in general. Many tourists and citizens are unaware of the threat that HABs can have, therefore, awareness about these potentially harmful organisms should be raised to the public.

Large bodies of water are typically described as oligotrophic or eutrophic, and sometimes even as mesotrophic (RMB, 2016). In a perfect world, oligotrophic bodies of water would mask eutrophic water. An oligotrophic body of water contains higher oxygen than nutrient levels (RMB, 2016). The higher oxygen concentration levels maintain healthy, clear water, and keep the plants and fish alive with many resources, such as oxygen. The water found there is usually safe to drink with low toxicity. In contrast, a eutrophic body of water describes higher nutrient than oxygen concentration (RMB, 2016). When the nutrient level rises above the oxygen level, much of the marine life die off due to suffocation with no oxygen resources. Harmful Algal Blooms thrive in these eutrophic bodies of water, due to an over-abundance of contamination caused by high nutrient levels (RMB, 2016). A happy medium between the two trophic levels is known as mesotrophic levels. Mesotrophic areas are usually ideal for fishing with a stable nutrient level. Algae can grow in mesotrophic water. However, too much nutrient production is restricted, ensuring no HABs (RMB, 2016).

HABs are a huge problem internationally, but they cause a threat to the local state of Texas as well. As described by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HABs are generally referred to as an overgrowth of algae in the water (EPA, 2016). Some of the algae produce dangerous toxins in both fresh and marine water, which is where problems arise (EPA, 2016). Millions of different microorganisms can be involved in one large mass, creating these HABs. In general terms, many people refer to this over-contamination of the water as red tide. In a red tide event, Karenia brevis (a planktonic marine dinoflagellate) organisms undergo tremendous growth in a large mass, producing a reddish-brown discoloration of the water (Texas Department of State Health Services 2016). This particular HA produces brevetoxins, which can pose a major threat to humans and marine life, alike.

With the brevetoxins and their chemical makeup, HABs can be dangerous. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS), brevetoxins produced by red tide are lethal to fish and can cause respiratory problems for people in the area of the bloom (TDSHS, 2016). The threat doesn’t end there, as people can also contract Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP) if consumed, and a variety of other illnesses mentioned later (TDSHS, 2016). Since K. brevis produces at least two heat-stable toxins that affect sodium transport in the autonomic nervous system, cooking will not eliminate the toxin (TDSHS, 2016). Therefore, red tide not only causes paralysis of fish gills, suffocation, and death for the marine animals, but it also maintains the risk of poisoning in humans.

How exactly can the organisms affect human kind, and how dangerous is the threat? Humans can contract an acute or long-term illness when exposed to HABs by drinking infected water, eating infected seafood, or even by residing in the infected area (Walker, 2015). The short-term acute effects from HABs include rashes, liver inflammation, dermatitis, numbness, and many other irritant effects (Walker, 2015). Unfortunately, there have been documented long-term effects such as poisoning, tumor formation, cardiac arrhythmia, and liver failure (Walker, 2015). It is a scary thought that such harmful organisms reside in the very water that used for tourism, recreational activity, and daily needs. Humans can prevent most cases, but marine life has no choice on if they come into contact with HABs or not.

The potential long-term effects from the consumption of diseased fish pose an extreme hazard to humans, the poisoning section in particular. According to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO), diseases and syndromes from the consumption of contaminated seafood often attack people around the coast (UNESCO). Contaminated seafood can potentially cause any of the five human syndromes: Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP), Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP), Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP), Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP), and Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) (UNESCO). If any of the above illnesses are in question, the consumer should seek medical attention immediately, due to potential deadly consequences. Both PSP and ASP are life-threatening diseases, with no known 100% treatment at the time (UNESCO). They viciously attack the neurological components in the human brain, potentially feeding lethal consequences. Although CFP, DSP, and NSP are typically not life threatening, they cause severe gastrointestinal and small neurological disturbances (UNESCO). The five known syndromes that can be caused from consumption of infected seafood are much dreaded and not very well known.

Gary Heideman, member of the Seafood and Aquatic Life Group for TDSHS provided helpful insight as to how these awful HABs are currently affecting the Texas Gulf. He answered the primary question of how HABs affect everyday life for citizens involved.

“Some types of HABs such as the red tide organism Karenia brevis causes respiratory irritation when these cells are in high enough concentrations. The cells will be broken apart by the wave action along a beach and the toxins will become airborne (aerosol) that can cause respiratory distress. When fish get exposed to high concentrations of the red tide organisms they suffocate and die. Therefore, it can be unpleasant to enjoy the beaches not to mention the stench of dead and dying fish” (Heideman, 2016).

His experience and knowledge supported the scientific facts, and enforced the idea that certain classes of HABs can be dangerous, but K. brevis typically provides more of a threat than other HABs.

How exactly can these scary toxins be transferred? According to the Gulf Base, algal toxins can be transferred through the food web where they can kill higher forms of life. These forms include shellfish, fish, birds, marine animals, and even humans through filtration from the water by shellfish such as clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops (GulfBase, 2004). The scariest part about these organisms is that they can be transferred in a variety of ways besides through the food web of death. During a typical algae bloom, HAB toxins often must be transported in the water column to connect with humans and animals (Walker 2015). Transport can occur through wind, currents, diffusion, or degrade into the natural environment through biological interactions (Walker 2015). The largest risk area for exposure is via the recreational waters (Walker 2015). Since the Texas coast is primarily home to recreational activity weather permitting, when red tide occurs, people must maintain awareness and clear the area.

In a study focused on Corpus Christi Bay, Turner and associates researched the baseline nutrient dynamics in this shallow well-mixed coastal lagoon with seasonal HABs (Turner et. al, 2015). This study contained two testing stations along the southern shoreline, which were sampled weekly for a whole year. The data was compared to that of a dry year, and they found that the seasonal occurrences of HABs were found to begin in November, and low oxygen starting in June (Turner et. al, 2015). Not straying far from the hypothesis, the chlorophyll-a values were seasonally trending, just as expected, not being harmed by any environmental effects (Turner et. al, 2015). Corpus Christi remains clean throughout the majority of the year, but when November hits, the seasonal HAB attack typically begins. In a dry year, the effect of HAB is near the same, which means that the environmental weather doesn’t determine growth of HABs (Turner et. al, 2015).

Charity Ward, an Undergrad Marine Biologist at the University of Texas A&M Corpus Christi endures the typical red tide event yearly. Since Ms. Ward has first hand experience with the coastal area in Texas, her responses were taken very seriously. When asked to discuss if and how red tide affects her life she responded:

“Yes, red tide does affect the Texas coast. Between August and December alone there were two instances where the waters in Corpus were affected. When there are red tide events, it affects me because it almost feels like you’re sick, making you cough and get itchy, watery eyes. The precautions I take are to stay away from both consuming seafood and vacationing to the beach during red tide. The sad part is that many people around this area aren’t as concerned or as aware as they should be.” (Ward, 2016)

Finally, the less dangerous aspect of HABs affecting life is the economic view. The tourism aspect is one that impacts the economy greatly, and decides how much activity is drawn to the gulf. In 2000, a red tide event on the Texas coast (Galveston) cost a maximum total impact approximately at $18.45 million in sales, 426 jobs, and $12.4 million in total added value (Evans and Jones, 2001). The deficit included losses to the tourism industry, harvesting, commercial fisheries, cleanup fees, and other appropriate expenses (Evans and Jones, 2001). Such alarming statistics cause extreme questioning as to whether or not the economy can handle such deficits. In an attempt to justify why such economic rules are followed, Hoagland and Scatasta suggested that the economy and scientific concerns are very different. While scientists focus on the changes in the ecosystem, economists focus on the changing patterns of human activities or resource uses resulting from a natural hazard (Hoagland and Scatasta, 2006). For example, if concentrations are too high or in the red tide state, commercial and recreational fishermen cannot harvest or sell shellfish (Hoagland and Scatasta, 2006). The fishermen and harvesters experience economic loss during the HAB, while consumers experience an economic gain by avoiding poisoning (Hoagland and Scatasta, 2006). The different views by economists and scientists are very interesting, and revolve around the main priorities of each group. While the economist strives to compete, the scientist strives to maintain safety for all levels of organisms. The scientific concern is obviously of greater importance to the general public, and the economic view has to shrink beneath it.

The red tide events strongly affect the tourism there, as well as the satisfaction from the guests. Roxy Vaughan, Norman resident, recalled memories from 2012. During break, she traveled to Galveston Beach on the Texas coast with her family. Without warning or notice, they arrived to an infected shore. Quickly her vacation turned sour. The coast warned visitors of the unfortunate contamination with HABs, however, they gave no indication as to whether or not it would clear out before break was over. Roxy recalls the horrible break:

“I will never go back to Galveston. I was unaware of what was going on down there before traveling, and I wish they would have some type of warning. We went to shore regardless of the warnings, and came across a coast of dead, foul-smelling, fish washed to shore. I will never go back, and I think that those who aren’t aware of HABs should be informed in land-locked states (Vaughan, 2016).

Based on Roxy’s experience at Galveston, the awareness to those who aren’t directly involved in HAB areas need to be strengthened. I’m sure many encounter similar events as her family did, and there’s really no way around this deterring tourists from the area, except to raise awareness.

Now that the basics of HABs are covered, how will this problem affect future generations any differently? The answer to that question lies deep beneath the surface, which is avoided in general discussion with many scientists. In a scientific study, members of Centers for Oceans and Human Health researched the impact of the climate and future climate change on harmful algal blooms and human health. For marine and freshwater, increasing concentrations of CO2 gases are expected to increase surface temperatures, lowering the pH, and causing mixing, upwelling, precipitation, and evaporation patterns (Moore et. al, 7). Although the ecological study is very strong, the potential consequences of the HABs have received little attention and are not well understood (Moore et. al, 7). They believe that given the increase in HABs as time moves forward, greater problems may result from climate change and acidification (Moore et. al, 7). Accurate predictions will require much more time and understanding of HAB physiology and ecology in order to determine the impact it may have on human health (Moore et. al, 7). Due to the continuing climate change, continued research on HABs is definitely necessary, and will be able to help to future residents along the coast to better prepare for “outbreaks.”

Heideman also added in that “Our state has had multiple affects from HABs around the state. Since I’ve been working here our group has experienced 24 HAB events. We have had 10 major HAB events and the rest have been somewhat localized atypical bloom events (Heideman, 2016).”

Therefore, the HABs that occur along the Texas Gulf are monitored throughout the year, and each event that occurs is documented and researched accordingly. The future is unknown, but backed by science. If nothing is done differently, the HAB trend will continue to cause problems worldwide.

In conclusion, Harmful Algal Blooms remain a threat to both marine and human life. This problem exists whether the common society knows about it or not, and it can cause many different illnesses. Due to the lack of complete knowledge on red tides, some of the science involved and the effects are left as a guessing game. Not only do the HABs affect ecology, but they also corrupt the economy. These organisms can be transferred in a variety of ways that make it hard to avoid contamination if left uninformed. Water is a main resource, and something needs to be done to limit the HABs. Due to the great risk of irritation, poisoning, and illness, people must remain aware, updated, and safe from contamination.




Works Cited

Evans, Garen, and Lonnie Jones. “Economic Impact of the 2000 Red Tide on Galveston County, Texas. A Case Study.” Department of Agricultural Economics. Texas A&M University, (2001) Texas Gov. Web. 5 March 2016.

GulfBase. Resource Database for Gulf of Mexico Research. Harmful Algal Blooms, 2004. Web. 5 March 2016.

Heideman, Gary. Personal Interview. 6 March 2016

Hoagland, P, and S. Scatasta. “The Economic Effects of Harmful Algal Blooms.” SpringerLinkBooks. Biomedical and Life Sciences vol. 189 (2006): 392-393. Web. 5 March 2016.

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO. Harmful Algal Bloom Programme. “What are Harmful Algae?” (n.d.) Web. 5 March 2016.

Moore, Stephanie, Vera Trainer, Nathan Mantua, Micaela Parker, Edward Laws, Lorraine Backer, and Lora Fleming. “Impacts of Climate Variability and Future Climate Change on Harmful Algal Blooms and Human Health. BioMed Central. Environmental Health (2008): 7. Web. 5 March 2016.

RMB Environmental Laboratories, INC. “Lake Trophic States,” 2016. Web. 5 March 2016.

Texas Department of State Health Services. Harmful Algal Blooms – Seafood and Aquatic Life, 2016. Web. 5 March 2016.

Turner, Evan, Bhanu Paudel, and Paul Montagna. “Baseline Nutrient Dynamics in Shallow Well Mixed Coastal Lagoon with Seasonal Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Formation.” Marine Pollution Bulletin vol. 96,1-2 (2015): 456-462. Web. 5 March 2016.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Harmful Algal Blooms, 2016. Web. 5 March 2016.

Vaughan, Roxy. Personal Interview. 6 March 2016.

Walker, Harold W. “Toxin Properties, Toxicity, and Health Effects.” Harmful Algae Blooms in Drinking Water: Removal of Cyanobacterial Cells and Toxins. Boca Raton: CRC Taylor & Francis Group, 2015. 27-29. Web. 5 March 2016.

Ward, Charity. Personal Interview. 5 March 2016.

Open Reply

In Field Notes From a Catastrophe, Elizabeth Kolbert sprung real life “theories” into a reality. Throughout the first four chapters, she provided many different sources of evidence that global warming/climate change does exist, and it is slowly becoming more and more of a problem for today’s society. Not only did she use different sources of proof, but she provided real life issues, scenarios, interviews, and scientific evidence.
When I first started reading Kolbert’s book, I struggled to understand everything going on. As I’ve continued reading, the understanding has become more profound. I finally understand the “set-up” she uses, and the ways she backs up her evidence. The incorporation of interviews in her writing is extremely useful and needed to understand the full picture of global warming.
In chapter one, the main topic was to prove that global warming does exist through the depiction of Alaska. Overtime, the glaciers melting, warming of oceans, severe forest fires, and temperature increases have become prime examples of evidence that global warming exists. This chapter contained a majority of scientific evidence to back up global warming, as well as future time tables on global warming. I found it alarming and interesting to learn about what’s going on in Alaska in her opinion and to compare it to my uncles opinions, who currently resides in Alaska for work.
In the second chapter, Kolbert focused again on global warming, but in a different scenario. She provided different scientists and their studies. Each of the constructed studies revealed that the planet is in danger by measurement readings performed by scientists. For example, Tyndall and Arrhenius provided clear evidence through the use of measurements by instruments taken on Earth. She came to the conclusion that global warming is real, and proven by many different scientists from the past and the present.
In the third chapter, Kolbert focused on the melting ice. Why was the ice melting? Well, the answer to that question is once again global warming. The predictions she provided for the future are extremely scary, as the ice caps melting can lead to many more serious problems. This chapter also discussed many different ideas on how the global warming is causing the ice to melt, and what can potentially happen while the ice is melting.
Chapter four provided a different outlook, as it provided the effect that global warming is making on nature. Global warming is some how driving evolution in a sense, and can lead to many animals becoming extinct in the future. It’s scary to think that global warming can be so harmful that it makes a certain species go extinct.
To provide a clear understanding on climate change, Kolbert uses strong content to portray her idea in the best manner she can. She utilizes strong verbs, which give the reader some sort of “break” from all of the scientific evidence. Not only do the verbs spice up the book, but her use of interviews makes it much more interesting. I think it’s very fitting to provide interviews to back up the ideas, giving real life answers to what’s going on.
In conclusion, I absolutely adore the book written by Elizabeth Kolbert. She provides a good example of what to follow for our own paper (Assignment 2). Each of her chapters have a main focus, narrowing down different views and effects from global warming. This book is definitely a good read for anyone who questions that global warming is in existence, as well as those who believe in global warming and want more on the subject.




Kolbert E. 2006. Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. Bloomsbury, New York.

Annotated Sources

Baddour D. 2015. Feds Intervene in to De-smog Big Bend. Chron News. Retrieved from:

Dylan Baddour summarizes the main problem at Big Bend National Park, the smog. The main argument in this article is on what to do and what is trying to be done about the smog. The biggest problem with the smog is the lack of view, because it doesn’t cause health problems or cause a threat to health. The EPA proposed a plan to cut over 230,00 tons of acidic gas from Texas skies, and didn’t agree to the plan by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality planned to provide Big Bend with normal visibility by 2155. He then summarized the EPA’s plans and how it could affect Big Bend National Park. The goal of this source is to provide the reader with why the Big Bend National Park hasn’t been “cured.” The ongoing battle at the federal level causes controversy on how exactly the problem should be fixed, as well as if it should even be fixed. This source will be useful for my paper, due to the information it provides on different organizations, and what they’re trying to pass. Something needs to be done with the air at this park before it’s too late. This source contradicts with some of my other sources, because it suggests that the smog doesn’t cause any harmful side effects.


Hopkins JS. 2015. In Texas, Environmental Officials Align With Polluters. Danger in the Air. National Geographic. Retrieved from:

This article was published by Jamie Hopkins, and summarized the environmental officials residing in Texas, as well as how they align with polluters. She provides information about the smog that makes up air pollution. The data about emissions in the air is alarming, and Texas remains at the top for pollutants. After providing data on emissions in different states and comparisons, she breaks down the certain pollutants found in Texas, and how they may cause unsafe conditions. The goal of this source is to provide the reader with information on air pollution problems in Texas. The pollutants have a potential harmful effect on individuals, which makes questions arise when thinking of Big Bend National Park. This source will be useful for my paper, because the information and data found on Texas smog can be related to the smog found at Big Bend National Park. The break down of different pollutants and emissions will help to support my paper on why it could potentially be dangerous at unsafe levels of consumption.


States News Service. 2015. EPA Moves To Protect Big Bend National Park and Other Wild Areas from Air Pollution. Newswire. Retrieved from:

The States News Service provided a short article on the EPA. This article summarizes the move that EPA is making to protect Big Bend National Park from air pollution. The EPA plans to make all these changes within 3 to 5 year deadlines to clean up the pollution. This article also discusses the rejection by the EPA to The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the plan they put forth, basically resembling a ”get nothing done” stimulation. It then discusses that people who reside close to plants do have health affects, and to what extent, as well as the different places the smog effects. The goal of this source is to discuss the plans that EPA has, as well as why their plans are needed in the state of Texas. The writer provided a source of bias towards the EPA, and backs the EPA and their decisions. This source will be useful for my writing, because it provides major steps that the EPA is taking towards a cleaner environment in Texas. Not only does the pollution affect Texas, but also it really springs danger to national parks and wilderness refugees, like Big Bend. This source would provide a resource for an advocate for the EPA and their beliefs, and potentially help create an argumentative edge.


Schichtel BA, Gebhart KA, Barna, MG, Malm WC. 2005. Association of Airmass Transport Patterns and Particulate Sulfur Concentrations at Big Bend National Park, Texas. Atmospheric Environment. 40:5, 992-1006. Retrieved from:

This article summarizes a study performed by The Big Bend Regional Aerosol and Visibility Observational. The study was done to determine and understand the haze found at Big Bend. The study found that high sulfur concentrations were associated with low level and low speed airmass transport from eastern US, Texas, and Northeastern Mexico. All three had high SO2 emissions that potentially could cause haze at Big Bend. The purpose of this article was to summarize a study that found an understanding as to why there is a haze at Big Bend National Park. The study is discussed in full and easily readable. This source will help me to make a point about the certain causes of smog/haze at Big Bend, and how the issue is ongoing. Since this article is old, I’ll be able to tie it into the newer articles, and link them together.


Gray JE, Theodorakos PM, Fey DL, Krabbenhoft, DP. 2015. Mercury Concentrations and Distribution in Soil, Water, Mine Wast Leachates, and Air in and Around Mines in the Big Bend Region, Texas, USA. Environmental Geochemistry and Health 37.1: 35-48. Retrieved from:

This scientific article summarizes the different concentrations of Mercury that are found in areas around Big Bend. It may be useful to me in my paper, as Mercury was proved in this article to be another contributing factor to the air problems, and may be potentially dangerous to citizens, and even wildlife.


National Parks Conservation Association. N.d. Mexico Preserves Foster Border Cooperation. National Parks. 65: 3-4, 12. Retrieved from:

This article summarizes the contribution Mexico is making by providing two new wildlife preserves adjacent to Big Bend. This could potentially be good or bad news, as the affect on wildlife would be unknown. Since Big Bend undergoes a lot of smog and believes some causes are from Mexico, it is risky for them to provide two new wildlife refugees potentially in harms way. This article will be useful to help discover Mexico’s contribution to the smog, and spin off on the topic of possible agreement, or even harmful events.













Below are two other possible sources that may be useful.!?&_suid=1456459598762021887719072419343