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Pollution

This category contains 42 posts
Container Ship Departing New York Harbor

MARPOL-ling in the Right Direction

Posted by Steven Koch Research article: Zetterdahl, M., Jana Moldanov, J., Xiangyu Pei, X., Pathak, R. K., Demirdjian, B. (2016). Impact of the 0.1% fuel sulfur content limit in SECA on particle and gaseous emissions from marine vessels. Elseveir, Atmospheric Environment, 145 (2016) 338-345. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.09.022 Background Air pollution is an important issue that adversely […]

trench map

Manmade Pollutants Plague Deep-sea Organsims

Scientists have found an alarming accumulation of certain persistent organic pollutants in an environment previously thought pristine and untouched by humans: the deep sea.

Image 2: a) sea pen and b) hermit crab in their habitat before being collected taken by Taylor, ML.  c) polyester microfibre and d) acrylic microfibre found within deep sea animals, taken by Gwinnet, C.  (Figure used with permission from Taylor et al., 2016).

First evidence of plastic microfibre consumption by deep-sea animals

For the first time ever, scientists have found evidence that deep sea animals are actually consuming plastic microfibres. Read more about the study and why we should care.

Fig. 3. Entangled Sea Turtle. Source: NOAA.

Let’s Ghost Fishing for Halloween!

Ghost fishing is ghastly because it creates underwater graveyards for wildlife. The authors covered here wrote a new review of gear entanglement among mammals, reptiles, and sharks. Find out what they discovered by reading today’s post!

Sperm whales traveling in a pod. Source: Gabriel Barathieu on Wikimedia Commons.

A Junkyard in the Belly of a Whale

A candy wrapper, plastic bags, car parts, packing materials, and fishing gear… it sounds like a list of things you might come across at a landfill or a junkyard, but actually it’s what researchers have found in the bellies of sperm whales. Scientists from Germany, the Netherlands, and France went searching to find out what’s in the belly of a whale, but they didn’t find Pinocchio. Instead, they found a slew of marine debris discarded from human activities.

Figure 1: H. trimaculatus (source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hippocampus_trimaculatus,_Osezaki.jpg)

From Wastewater to Seahorses to the Medicine Cabinet

Pollution of metals could be getting into the tissue of seahorses–the very tissues that are used to make a special Chinese medicine. Now scientists fear that the metal pollutants could harm the patients who take the medicine. Read more to find out what they learned about the accumulation of metals in seahorse tissues.

Fig. 6: Photos E and F show larvae unexposed to microplastics, G and H show larvae exposed to an average concentration of microplastics, and I and J show larvae exposed to a high concentration of microplastics. In photos G-J, small, clear circles are microplastic! Fish shown in I and J have clearly ingested a lot of it.

Small fish dine on small plastics and that’s a BIG problem

We’ve heard a lot about plastics in the ocean, but a new study shows the ecological implications of fish eating plastic. Here, researchers found that larval fish are preferentially consuming microplastics and it’s stunting their growth, altering their behavior, and increases death rates.

Fig 1: Marine debris on the beach at Green Island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Author: Keeley Belva, NOAA. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kure_debris_440.jpg

To I.D. Debris: LIDAR as a tool to identify trash on the beach

Scientists may have a new option for figuring out how much debris litters our beaches and what it all is! Find out more in today’s World Oceans Day post on marine debris!

Figure 2: An osprey with their fresh caught dinner! Organic contaminants can bioaccumulate in fish and be transfer and magnified up the food web.

Flying high: the ospreys are alright!

Chesapeake Bay osprey populations were at an all-time low in the 1970’s due in part to pesticides like DDT. Forty years later, organic pollutant concentrations in eggs and fledglings are on the decline and observations from 2011-2012 suggest there were no large scale effects of organic contaminants on osprey productivity.

zooplankton

Plankton are eating plastic!

Zooplankton, the tiny animals that make up the base of marine food webs, are ingesting microplastics. Given the widespread abundance of microplastics in the ocean, this finding could have serious ramifications for zooplankton and their predators.

borrowed from: https://dotmsrstaging.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/uploads/uploads/1264031072408387500.jpg

Mercury at elevated levels observed in only some elephant seals, but why?

Mercury: we know it from old-school thermometers and we know if from sushi; and now we know that the distribution in the ocean is reflected in the blood of northern elephant seals. N.B. No elephant seals were harmed during this research.

CohoSalmon

Cohos in Dirty Water: Salmon and Pollution

Coho salmon are one of the six species of Pacific salmon. They can be found from California to Alaska, but from California to Oregon their populations are in bad shape. A new study in Applied Ecology tries to determine if pollution from urban runoff may be partly to blame.

Turtle eating plastic.

The new fad diet for sea turtles? Plastics

Paper: Wedemeyer, K. R., George, S., James, H. B., Peterson, T. D., Wicksten, M. K. and Plotkin, P. T. (2015). High frequency of occurrence of anthropogenic debris ingestion by sea turtles in the North Pacific Ocean. Mar. Biol. Background If you’re a coastal resident, I’m sure you see the same thing as I do when I […]

Earth

Wake-up Call: Global Oceans in Big Trouble!

Our global oceans are in a state of crisis. A new report from the WWF paints a bleak picture: human interference has pushed the oceans to the brink of collapse. The health of marine organisms and the habitats they live in have become severely threatened by compounding factors such as pollution, overfishing and increased CO2 input. This situation is urgent and requires global awareness and swift action. The ocean is changing at a rapid pace before our eyes and we can no longer waste time.

Besseling 2015 - Figure 1

Tiny plastic pieces accumulate in a huge marine filter-feeder

Scientists find microplastic pieces in the intestines of a baleen whale for the first time.

The beauty of Boston Harbor. Credit: Trip Advisor

Nineteen years later: The clean-up of Boston Harbor’s waste water

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority spent ten years from 1991 and 2000 drastically improving the treatment of waste water released into Boston Harbor in an effort to improve the overall health of this unique estuary. This study measured how the sediments reacted and recovered to this massive effort. Despite the complexities and variability, from start to finish the sediments saw reductions in oxygen demand, nitrogen fluxes, and organic matter.

Figure 2. "Deep ocean!" PFASs shout. (picture from Hastings water works)

Pollutants have fun sliding downhill in submarine canyons!

Many of us believe that the deep ocean is pristine and not affected by any human activities; the fact that pollutants such as perfluoroalkyl substances can reach deep ocean gives us a warning sign. It was estimated that around 60 kg of these chemicals was transported during the sampling periods.

Image: © EPFL Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Out of sight, out of mind: The effect of gas & oil spills on deep-sea communities

When undersea wells blowout, toxic concentrations of hydrocarbons can be rapidly released into the environment. The media presents these blowouts with dramatic images of flora and fauna covered in black tar along coastlines and on the sea surface. What are rarely shown in glossy photographs, however, are the consequences to the unseen deep-sea.

Figure 2. Snow melting may be the major input of volatile methyl siloxanes to the Antarctic ecosystem.

These Volatile Pollutants Can’t Fly, but Can They Hop?

Volatile methyl siloxanes can be easily found in personal care products (e.g. shampoo, lotion and cream) . Recently, scientists detected these compounds in soils, vegetation, phytoplankton, and krill samples from the Antarctic Peninsula region. This finding brings into question the belief that these compounds are not able to reach remote terrestrial and marine surfaces.

Fig. 1. Microplastics. The penny can provide a sense of scale for how small these are! These are from the Great Lakes “Garbage Patch” but similar types and sizes are in the oceans. Both freshwater and marine ecosystems are at risk. Photo credit: 5gyres. Photo source: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/04/12/new-concerns-about-plastic-pollution-in-great-lakes-garbage-patch/

Corals consume microplastics! Talk about an unhealthy diet!

The dangerous diet fad among marine organisms is spreading! New study shows corals consume microplastics.

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