Tuesday 9 July 2013

Environmental Alert! East London under threat from giant leeches.

Our guest writer, field biologist Clear Hardly, alerts us to evolutionary changes occurring in East London's invertebrates, particularly leeches, which are on the move since the authorities disturbed their ancient habitats in the waterways of Hackney Marshes to develop the 2012 Olympic Park in Stratford.

Hirudo leech: Segmented worm of the Phylum Annelida species, with anterior and posterior suckers, hermaphrodites, it explores the water environment and feeds on its host injecting anti-coagulents to assist predation and, when gorged with blood, it falls away.

Hirudo gigantae vulgaris: these huge leeches have emerged from the marshes to become wholly terrestrial in form. They feed on development sites, inject capital and rapaciously extract huge value from their hosts at the expense of future generations. They favour brownfield and, increasingly, greenfield land. When gorged they fall away and move on in search of new opportunities.

"Not to be mistaken for pond life, I urge local communities to keep a wary lookout for Hirudo gigantae vulgaris" said Clear Hardly "particularly around London's East End like Dalston Stoke Newington, Forest Gate and Shoreditch. Even community gardens, sports fields, and common land are no longer safe. When they bleed!

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