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Help Protect the Clean Water Act as it Turns 39 Years Old

Help Protect the Clean Water Act as it Turns 39 Years Old

Waterkeeper Alliance

As the Clean Water Act (CWA) turns 39 years old Oct. 18, it has never been in such great peril. Big polluters and some in Congress are waging attacks against the CWA that are eroding the foundation of this landmark legislation that has, since 1972, cleaned up numerous waterways and provided a framework for citizens to protect their waterways.

Take some time to sign this petition to tell those in Congress to protect the CWA from big polluters and to protect our communities from these attacks.

Click here to tell Congress that you stand for clean water.

Join Waterkeeper Alliance in Celebrating Clean Water During the Clean Water Act 40 Campaign

Waterkeeper Alliance is officially launching its CWA 40 campaign. The goal of CWA 40 is to celebrate, activate and advocate for the CWA during the 40th anniversary of this landmark legislation. Throughout 2012, Waterkeeper Alliance will be working to engage communities across the nation to stand up for their basic right to swimmable, drinkable and fishable water.

Join us as we work to take back the Clean Water Act from those are working to destroy your right to clean water and healthy communities.

Sign-up here to receive updates on CWA 40.

CWA 40 Campaign

Every Waterkeeper in the U.S. has used the CWA to prevent degradation of their neighborhood waterways and to force polluters to clean up their mess. When government has not been able or willing to take on the tough fight to enforce the law, Waterkeepers have stepped in using the citizens' suit provision in the CWA to protect and restore waterways across America. Our international Waterkeepers have also looked to this act as a model for their battles in their communities. The CWA is the foundation of Waterkeeper Alliance's work and Waterkeeper is the only national organization with over 130 organizations working to protect clean water in their communities.

Waterkeeper Alliance is the fastest-growing environmental movement in the world, uniting Waterkeepers who patrol and protect rivers, bays, lakes and streams in 21 countries on six continents—more than 1.5 million square miles of watersheds—in boats ranging in size from kayaks to research vessels. We are the leading voice for the world's waters with roots dating back to 1966, when a concerned group of commercial and recreational fishermen mobilized to reclaim the Hudson River from polluters.

Under CWA 40, Waterkeeper Alliance will work to celebrate the success of the Clean Water Act, activate communities to protect their right to swimmable, drinkable and fishable waters, and advocate to draw attention to the fact that the act is under assault by big polluters and their indentured servants on Capitol Hill. The CWA is the cornerstone of Waterkeeper Alliance's work, but this landmark legislation is currently under attack and in danger of being significantly weakened, which could undermine the clean water protections that our streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries have been afforded over the past 40 years.

In 2012, Waterkeeper Alliance will remind Americans, and the world, that we have indeed come a long way from 1969 when the Cuyahoga River was burning. But we still have a long way to go to protect all of our waterways.

Congress' 1972 goal was to have eliminated all discharges of pollutants into navigable waters by 1985. Almost two decades later, in 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mournfully acknowledged that water quality in many parts of the country was in steady decline. Waterkeeper Alliance is committed to fulfilling this mission and leaves Waterkeepers as the last line of defense to meet the goals of the CWA.

The CWA's 40th anniversary provides an important opportunity for Waterkeeper Alliance to help mobilize, advise and assist our coalition of local Waterkeepers across the country to implement a coordinated series of clean water enforcement and advocacy efforts.

For more information, click here.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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