Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘oceans’

April 13, 2009

Killing ourselves and oceans one ‘nurdle" at a time

If you want some more evidence of how messed up things have gotten in the oceans, please just take time to read this passage from Los Angeles Times’ “Altered Oceans” series:

The Los Angeles River carries enough trash each year to fill the Rose Bowl two stories high, and despite efforts to corral some of it near the river mouth, most slips through to the ocean.

Moore adjusted a trawlnet to collect trash flowing downriver. At Moore’s signal, a crane operator lifted the net out of the water. Volunteers swarmed around the trawlnet, extracted the contents and loaded them into more than a dozen jars.

The jars were filled with plastic pellets the size and shape of pills. They come in all colors and are the raw material for a vast array of plastic products, from trash bags to medical devices.

About 100 billion pounds of pellets are produced every year and shipped to Los Angeles and other manufacturing centers. Huge numbers are spilled on the ground and swept by rainfall into gutters; down storm drains, creeks and rivers; and into the ocean.

From his river sampling, Moore estimated that 236 million pellets washed down the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers in three days’ time. Also known as “nurdles” or mermaid tears, they are the most widely seen plastic debris around the world. They have washed ashore as far away as Antarctica.

The pellets, like most types of plastic, are sponges for oily toxic chemicals that don’t readily dissolve in water, such as the pesticide DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Some pellets have been found to contain concentrations of these pollutants 1 million times greater than the levels found in surrounding water.

– From the Pulitzer Prize winning 2006 series: Altered Oceans © Los Angeles Times

November 12, 2008

Every breath you take: Thank ocean’s plankton

Every time you take a breath, thank the ocean and phytoplankton. At least half the world’s oxygen output comes from the sea by way of the tiny, drifting marine animals and plants called phytoplankton.

During photosynthesis, the microscopic lungs of the earth, phytoplankton use carbon and returns oxygen to the water and atmosphere. Not only does plankton provide O2, it also is the start of the food web that allows fish, birds and mammals to proliferate.

The group Greenpeace has a terrific “Lungs of the Earth” video underscoring this important aspect of the sea. The group is trying to remind us that oceans get too little credit for their oxygen production, as well as their capacity to absorb CO2.

Watch it:

Phytoplankton production is good indicator of environmental change, too much plankton can be deadly for birds and other animals. These blooms often result in domoic acid that affect animals central nervous systems.

The ocean is a balance, do your part by keeping it clean.

Also see:

Death bloom of plankton a warning on warming

Greenpeace campaign for the oceans

National Geographic: Phytoplankton