Mercury in our seas

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.


11 Nov, 2018

4 thoughts on “Mercury in our seas

  1. I read an article on this quite a few years ago, which is why I stopped eating a lot of fish.

    I happen to live in a state that’s well known for things like lobster, which I don’t really care for anyway, which is probably a good thing.

    Mercury is probably one of the biggest reasons for the rise in autism in the world, which people obviously aren’t realizing, among so many other health risks and issues.

    The biggest problem isn’t from places like the US and the UK but from the other countries where they don’t have any regulations at all and they pump out pollutants like there is no tomorrow, which will be the case if they continue.

    There are ways to prevent this from happening but the solution is far too expensive for some people, and they potentially don’t live in the areas that are polluted, so why should they care?

    Chances are that if people don’t start doing something now, this planet will be uninhabitable by the 22nd century, which is truly sad.

    1. Thanks for your response Randy. Yes, there’s more to mercury than we think, although I am sure there will those who don’t agree with the mercury theory around autism. I believe it.

      I think we all must do more whether we consume fish or seafood or not. We all have to care before it’s too late to care.

      A human failing is we become so self-absorbed we fail to care or think about anything else. We may put our families first, but putting our families first means thinking about their future and their children’s future.

      Without protecting our oceans amongst other things, we will have very little future. That is something we all need to think about.

  2. It is so important that people write about issues like this, so that people may change habits for the benefit of us all.

    It’s another example of how we are harming the planet and ourselves. As you point out this is just a part of a picture of us destroying our environment.

    We live within a delicately balanced ecosystem, yet our impact on it is disproportionate. The signs are clear for all, and yet I fear the political will continue to suffer at the hands of profiteers and polluters.

    1. That is exactly right. We are destroying the environment and ecosystem and those will will continue to be affected because we fail to see or want to understand what we’re doing.

      Instead of us being self-absorbed, preoccupied with our own feelings and interests, we must think about the wider picture of what we’re doing to our environment and the animal species.

      Whilst we may be forgiven for not understanding early on because there was little information out there, there is no excuse now because scientists are making all governments aware.

      Governments and countries, must work together and be proactive so that we can halt the damage already done. There are also things we can do individually.

      We are single-handedly destroying the ecosystem, which we are a part of. We are single handedly destroying our own habitat.

      Attitudes need to and must change.

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