Time to bomb the stinking algae off Stonington

The New London Day • 6/11/2012

Judging from the online comments posted about the nauseating stench emanating from rotting algae off tony Stonington Borough, less-privileged readers seem somewhat unsympathetic about the plight of waterfront property owners who have been forced to retreat to their rear parlors in hopes that canapés washed down by Veuve Clicquot will help clear the air.

Some have been amused by firefighters’ attempts to hose down the seaweed with water, which only made the stink even more unbearable, or by past efforts of public works crews to cart off truckloads of the foul growth, or by anguished consultations with marine biologists, and especially by threats of legal action (“against whom?”) if something – ANYTHING! – isn’t done.

Doughty denizens of the borough endured the Blizzard of ’78, the 1938 Hurricane and fought off the bloody British in 1775 and 1814; they certainly should be able to get rid of a little seaweed.

Here are some modest suggestions:

• Now that combat operations in Iraq have ended and the war in Afghanistan is winding down, the 101st Airborne Division needs a new mission.

The “Screaming Eagles,” a U.S. Army modular light infantry division trained for air assault operations, would make short work of the Stonington algae. After all, these guys landed in Normandy on D-Day and fought at Hamburger Hill.

A few strafing runs, maybe a few mortars, goodbye odor.

• The Old Lighthouse at Stonington Point, once the beacon for vessels approaching Stonington Harbor from Long Island Sound, consists of a 30-foot stone tower built in 1823 that supported a lantern containing 10 oil lamps and parabolic reflectors. Its beacon was visible 12 miles at sea.

With modern-day optic technology engineers should be able to crank that reflector up so it sends out a laser beam capable of penetrating steel.

A few well-placed zaps and that algae will wind up looking like shredded parsley atop a tureen of Lobster Newburg.

• Giant squid can’t get enough algae. The average cephalopod consumes 10 tons a day, so if the fishing fleet brought in a few dozen the whole harbor would be clean as a whistle in less than a week.

Of course, they may have to close duBois Beach, since squid also prey on swimmers, but it’s a necessary tradeoff.

• If the Deepwater Horizon oil spill taught us nothing else, this nation should be aware of how ill prepared authorities are for such environmental disasters.

The problem is that emergency workers can conduct a thousand drills, yet nothing prepares them better than the real thing. A chief difficulty, of course, is that nobody wants crude oil spewing everywhere while guys in makeshift skimmers are practicing their cleanup – unless that oil serves another purpose, such as eradicating unwanted algae.

It’s a win-win: Run a tanker aground off Napatree when the tide is coming in, wait for the oil to wash up off Diving Street and kill off the algae, and then spend the rest of the year practicing cleaning it all up.

Anyway, these are just a few ideas. We’re sure readers have some others. Let’s get this taken care of by the Fourth of July!

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.