According to an article dated 6, August 2014 in The Guardian newspaper, the amount of mercury near the surface of many of the world’s oceans has tripled as the result of our polluting activities, with potentially damaging implications for marine life as the result of the accumulation of this toxic metal.
Mercury is accumulating near the surface of seas as the element is released to the atmosphere and seas from a variety of sources, including mines, coal fired power stations and sewage. Mercury is toxic to humans and marine life and accumulates in our bodies over time as we are exposed to sources of it and since the industrial revolution, we have tripled the mercury content in seas.
For several years, scientists have warned that pregnant women and small children should limit consumption of certain fish, such as Shark, Tilefish and King Mackerel, as toxic metals including mercury and lead have been accumulating in these species to a degree that made their over-consumption dangerous to human health. Nearly all fish and shellfish contain at least trace amounts of mercury.
Researchers at the University of Southampton, said it was hard to say from the research how much damage had already been done to marine life, including edible fish species, and how quickly any such damage would become apparent, but that it is a good indicator of how much impact we are having on the marine environment and ‘an alarm call for the future.’
Because of the winds and ocean currents, the north pole and the Artic circle are areas where many pollutants that are released elsewhere accumulate. Polar Bears have been found to have high levels of toxins in their bodies as a result and these animals are sometimes eaten by indigenous Arctic peoples.
Improvements in technology and the move away from reliance on energy production from fossil fuels is reducing releases to atmosphere in the west, but many developing countries have yet to catch up. The situation is the same with sewage disposal. Developed countries have means to reduce this impact, but developing countries are less likely to have the necessary treatment systems in place.
Since oceans are an essential component of the Earth’s ecosystem; a source of biodiversity, food, and life, all governments need to commit to conserve, protect and restore oceans as part of a wider responsibility to tackling climate change. One or two governments don’t agree there is such a thing as climate change.
We can and must do our bit to try to turn this problem around. As what we do is already part of the problem, it is up to us to be more hands on to try to reduce this problem even further. Our lives are at risk as well as sea animals’ lives. This isn’t something we can ignore and the problem will go away. It’s all of our responsibility.
The issue with mercury in our oceans has been going on for some time. All governments need to agree to work towards correcting global warming and we must do our bit too. As a species our lives are depending it as well as ocean life. There are things we need to remember to do.
With regard to polluting activities, there are things we should be doing already. If you’re not already doing it, start by conserving energy. Remember to turn lights off when you leave a room. Turn computers and electric appliances off when you’re not using them. Remember to change over to and use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances.