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Transcript of Ocean Pollution
What is it and how does is affect marine life?
"In a study released in the February 2008 journal Science, researchers found that human activity – from over-fishing to greenhouse gases and global warming to the introduction of toxins into the environment – has affected every square mile of ocean on the planet and strongly impacted roughly 40% of marine ecosystems."
( http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/disc.html?gpp=7516&pst=947306 )
Runoff effects on mammals
Marine mammals are suffering devastating illnesses such as nervous and digestive system problems, liver disease, contaminant-induced immune-suppression, endocrine system damage, reproductive malformations, and growth and development issues.
Scientists have been finding increasing levels of chemicals in marine mammal bodies, which have corresponded with increases in mass die-offs, otherwise inexplicable population declines. They have found that many of these events are suggestive of broad environmental distress in the oceans.
Sources of Pollution
Once the ocean is contaminated by pollutants such as toxic runoff, dredged materials, oil spills, trash and debris, industrial waste and sewage sludge, delicate ecosystems are forever disrupted
These pollutants can have serious economic and health impacts by killing marine life and damaging habitats and ecosystems
Dredging can create the following disturbances to aquatic ecosystems:
The release of toxic chemicals from bottom sediments into the water column
Increases in turbidity, which can affect aquatic species metabolism and interfere with spawning
Substrate removal results in habitat and species removal
Alteration of bottom topography and hydrography which destroys habitats and can cause direct physical stress to the surrounding species
When it rains, toxic pesticides are washed into the rivers and streams that eventually flow into the ocean. After mercury, dioxins, and other pollutants find their way into the ocean and sink to the bottom, bottom-feeding organisms ingest these chemicals and contaminate the food chain. Toxins are consumed by small fish, which are in turn eaten by larger fish, which are eaten by even larger fish. Eventually marine mammals and humans, each higher up the food chain, eat the now-toxic fish, further concentrating the toxins
Industrial waste is one of the major issues when it comes to ocean dumping. These toxic chemicals, including radioactive chemicals, are a death sentence for ocean life forms.
Plastic bags, balloons, medical waste, soda cans, and milk cartons all find their way into the oceans of the world. These items float in the water and wash up on beaches. They often create health hazards for the marine life.
"The beluga whales of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Estuary have had the dubious honor of being the "most toxic mammal" in the western hemisphere. Beluga carcasses are so saturated with agricultural runoff-delivered chemicals, such as pesticides, herbicides and phosphorus, that their carcasses must be handled like toxic waste."
Oil is dangerous to marine life in various ways. It clogs up the gills of the fish and suffocates them. When oil floats on the surface, it blocks sunlight and prevents marine plants from utilizing the light for photosynthesis. These plants are an important part of both the food chain and the reef habitats found in the oceans. If Marine animals get oil on their fur or feathers, they may be unable to fly or move properly, maintain body temperature, or feed.
Skin irritations, eye irritation, blindness, lung and liver problems can all impact marine life of all kinds over a long period of time. Illnesses that occur as a direct result of exposure to the toxins found in oil can make animals sick for years. Oil contaminates can cause low fertility and poor birth survival rates that have an adverse effect on the marine population in the polluted area.