Our oceans face a crisis. There are a number of important reasons for concern. The trickle down through the food chain may affect several generations of our progeny.
Sampling the World’s Oceans for Pollution
In every ocean on our planet, we find the signatures of humanity.
On the tiny Pacific Atoll of Midway, adult Albatross birds feed plastic and other garbage to their hatchlings. The skeletal remains of albatross chicks litter the beaches of Midway Atoll revealing a menagerie of un-digested plastic.
Off the coast of Los Angeles county, there is a US-EPA Superfund site, it had served as an illegal dumping ground of DDT and PCBs in the 1960s to 1970s for the Montrose Chemical Company. While its declaration as a Superfund site occurred in the 1997, its present status is still toxic. Recent studies appearing in the journal Environmental Pollution in 2016 find evidence of some coastal fish ingesting DDT and PCBs. The scientists from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, the University of California, Riverside and the Southern California Coastal Water Research of Costa Mesa California report high levels of DDT and PCBs in the sediment, as well.
A schematic from US Environmental Protection Agency that details levels of DDT contamination of sediment off the coast of Southern California. Highest levels are in red, while indigo represents the lowest reported levels of DDT. Image by US EPA.
One place that many would not fathom to believe finding the remnants of civilization is the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. In 2016, it was reported that garbage was found there, as well.
Scientists are now finding the effects of technological excesses in the Arctic ocean, as well. Studies as recent as August of 2017 reveal finding micro plastics (MP) in sediments and waters of the Arctic Ocean.
It does not take far or very long to notice the effects of ocean pollution. It is safe to deduce the oceans and we face a potential crisis.
Image source: https://www3.epa.gov/region9/superfund/pvshelf/index.html
What are these ‘Newer Pollutants?’
Finding micro-sized particles ( known as beads from toiletries and micro-sized plastics) in sea life presents a new twist in the water problem. Because the so-called particles are not readily trapped during sewage treatment processes, many different kinds of sea life are ingesting them, as well. Thus, micro-sized particles are found in many forms of sea-life: kelp, shellfish, birds, and other fish. These findings have led to a further maturing of technology leading to the new field of nano-toxicology. However, not all of the scientific establishment is on board with the findings.
A Mindset that Allowed Micro-sized Refuse in the World’s Oceans
Whether it is leachate from plastics or micro-beads utilized in toiletries– the un-wanted chemicals are found in almost every species of sea life. As the world forged ahead by utilizing nanotechnology in the hopes of greening the planet, paradigms that were utilized in past technologies still haunt the planet’s population. The mindset of ignoring the repercussions of toxic chemicals was one that was rampant prior to Ecology Movement of the 1970s. Since that time, a majority of the newer generation of scientists have changed their priorities, but complete change is yet to come.