While smooth dogfish may not be on your list of favorite seafood, cartilaginous fish (mainly sharks and skates) may increasingly find their way onto your dinner plate due to the decline of more traditional fisheries. While increased demand for these species as a food item could help struggling seafood industries, recent proposals to use dogfish in federal food programs beg the question: Is it safe to eat shark?
Large numbers of green sea turtles are growing tumors that impede their swimming, block their sight, and prevent them from feeding. Researchers know that the tumor-causing disease, fibropapillomatosis, is more prevalent in some areas than others, but no one knows why. In this study, scientists set out to determine whether exposure to chemical pollutants may make sea turtles more susceptible to fibropapillomatosis.
There’s been a lot of news floating around about “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, the region of the Pacific Ocean where all of our long-lasting plastic products accumulate. This study by Lavender Law et al. used a multi-year, spatially extensive data set to estimate just how much plastic is currently floating in the Pacific.
The poster child for human pollution of the ocean has to be floating plastic bottles and soda rings, right? Once in the ocean, these plastics can aggregate. They create large floating masses, or garbage patches and some species find refuge in our refuse. Recent research has shown that diverse communities utilize these open ocean rafts, finding similarities to traditional ecological theory.
Analyzing changes in gene transcription is a way to detect adverse effects in organisms before they are observable on the whole organism level. Here, a Canadian research group set out to determine whether beluga whales in the relatively pristine Beaufort Sea are accumulating toxic pollutants at levels that could affect the future health of the beluga population.
Oceanographers from Spain have measured several commonly used (and potentially harmful) organophosphate ester flame retardants in the air over the Mediterranean and Black Seas. What does it mean for the environment? We’re only just beginning to find out.
POPs, or persistent organic pollutants, are manmade chemicals that don’t break down in the environment and are found nearly everywhere around the planet. In this study, scientists traveled to central Chile to look at a couple of different POPs accumulating in sediments from an estuary.
Recently, you may have heard that scientists have discovered small plastic particles floating in the open ocean and in the Great Lakes. The presence of these tiny plastic pieces is a cause of concern on its own, but did you know that plastic can also interact with other forms of marine pollution? Researchers at San Diego State University deployed small plastic pellets in San Diego Bay to determine whether plastics absorbed or released pollutants as they floated in the water. Their findings suggest that polystyrene may pose a more serious threat than other plastics.
Animals in early stages of development are particularly susceptible to harmful effects of toxic pollutants. For this reason, the transfer of toxic pollutants from mothers to their young has been the subject of intense research. In this study, researchers from California State investigated how non-mammalian species like sharks, skates, and rays pass toxic pollutants on to their young.
The oil or “tar” sands in Alberta, Canada are the third largest known reserves of accessible oil in the world. They are located around 200 km upstream of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, which is considered a wetland of international significance. This Delta is an ecologically sensitive habitat that provides services for millions of birds, which led a group of scientists in Canada to study mercury levels in bird eggs and investigate sources of mercury to the area.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia recently presented a global model simulating how dioxins, a group of very toxic, persistent pollutants, travel from source regions and are deposited around the globe. Their findings suggest that oceans are impacted more dramatically than previously thought.
Scientists find a diverse and distinct community of microorganisms that live on plastic trash at the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean. Is the “plastisphere” only a buzzword? Or can plastic waste be considered a new, man-made ecological habitat in the open ocean?
Australian and Norwegian researchers measured levels of pesticides and PCBs in southern hemisphere humpback whales to find out whether extreme weight loss during migration could have unforeseen consequences for the species.