Many people point their fingers at climate change, underwater weapons testing, ocean quakes and biodiversity, as reasons behind the collapse of the marine ecosystem. While there’s something to be said for these issues as contributing factors in the decline of marine life, the fact remains that the ongoing after-effects of Fukushima’s radiation plays a significant role too.
Consider this: in 2006 – years before the nuclear disaster in Japan – a paper was published in the journal Science, which warned of the fate of marine life. Lead author Boris Worm, assistant professor of marine conservation biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, noted that “… all fish and seafood species are projected to collapse within my lifetime — by 2048.” An abstract of that paper, entitled, Impact of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services, states that, “We conclude that marine biodiversity loss is increasingly impairing the ocean’s capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from perturbations.”(1,2)
Now, let’s take this shocking 2048 end-of-fish-and-seafood-species statement and add to it something that hadn’t yet occurred when the paper was published in 2006: Fukushima. With upwards of about 800 tonnes of Cesium-134 said to have leaked into the Pacific ocean on a daily basis ever since the 2011 disaster, it’s only logical to conclude that yet another factor – radiation – can be tossed into this biodiversity/sea quakes/climate change mix when attempting to explain the tragic loss of marine life species.(3)
Sadly, 75 percent of the world’s fish are depleted, a loss thought to be irreversible. It may very well be a fair conclusion to suggest that the end of fish and seafood species may come even before 2048, since Fukushima undoubtedly accelerated – and continues to accelerate – negative changes in ocean life.(3)
It’s not just radiation impacting marine life, either … There have been oil spills …
Sadly, this is just one of many problems plaguing water on the planet. In addition to radioactive-tainted oceans, oil spills have also wreaked havoc on marine life. For example, the 2010 BP oil rig explosion ended up dumping 200 million gallons of oil into the ocean, which researchers say left a massive oily blob, about the size of Rhode Island, at the ocean’s bottom.(4)
Of the BP oil spill, Charles Fisher of Penn State University has said, “What we still don’t know, and what we need to all keep in mind, is that there’s the potential for sub-acute impact. In other words, things that might have happened to corals’ reproductive system — slower acting cancers, changes in the fitness of the animal. These are very hard to detect and they’ll take a long time for us to see whats going on.”(4)
… and fish with tumors thanks to pesticides and personal care products
There’s also the problem of fish being found with cancerous tumors on their bodies, as was the case when a smallmouth bass fishermen in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River caught such a fish in November 2014. It was the first documented case of its kind in that area, and ultimately, the highly-visible mouth protrusion was deemed a malignant tumor. Interestingly, fishermen in the area have observed increasing numbers of fish with lesions and sores, and even intersex fish, in recent years. It’s thought that the likes of agricultural pesticides and human personal care products, that make their way into the water system, play a role in these devastating changes.(5)
The list goes on.
… and microbeads getting in the waterways
The issue of microbeads has also made headlines, with many states banning the sale and manufacture of them in various products. The small beads often enter waterways where fish mistake their small, round shape for eggs and ingest them. In fact, in Lake Michigan, approximately 17,000 bits of microbeads per square kilometer have been observed, shedding light on the severity of the problem.(5)
… and residents forced to drink poisonous river water
And last, but certainly not least, are the residents of Flint, Michigan, who had no choice but to drink toxic water after the governor’s emergency manager disconnected the city from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department in an effort to save money. This forced residents to drink poisonous, lead-laden water from the Flint River – a fact officials were aware of – which ended up greatly harming people’s health.(6)
From our oceans right on down to local rivers, it’s obvious that our water is in serious trouble. It’s been gravely impacted by a variety of man-made and natural disasters, greed, ignored safety measures and so on. As such, it appears that the collapse of marine ecosystems (and much more), is an unfortunate given.
Sources for this article include: