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ECO Church - The problem of Ocean plastic - continued 2

Many people believe that the oceans have reached a crisis point. Our maltreatment of the seas affects so many areas of marine picture of the oceanlife.

A billion hoard of herrings used to pour into the Norwegian Fjords but due to intensive fishing in the late 1960's the herring all but disappeared. Orcas were seen as rivals and hundreds were killed. Only after the Norwegian Government imposed severe restrictions on fishing did the herrings begin to recover. Today the herrings are bountiful and are closely monitored by teams of scientists including the Orca's underwater activity.

A worrying change in the Orcas' behaviour has been seen. The Orcas have worked out the easiest way to get a meal. They wait for the fishing boats to drop their nets as a lot of herring slip through the nets. Orcas gather in numbers around the fishing boats. This new tactic is very dangerous as has been witnessed. A large adult Orca was trapped inside the net and was seen fighting for its life and eventually it was released.

Scientists are also listening to the sounds of the ocean. It has been discovered that fish communicate by making sounds, 'talking' to each other and giving alerts to predators being close by. This discovery has led to a serious worry. The noises of boats passing has been seen to interfere with the fish communication. Unable to make themselves heard above the noise of the boat, they cannot warn each other of danger so they are now vulnerable to attack.

With the noise of boats and ships driving around and offshore drilling that we are making makes one realise how much we are drowning out this natural biological noise, robbing animals of their ability to be able to talk to each other. All this noise may have serious consequences for many coral reef fish because their babies as soon as they hatch are swept out to sea. There, they feed and grow until big enough to swim back - and to find the reef they use sound, listening for the sound of the reef.

Man made noise is now everywhere in the oceans and affects marine creatures of all kinds from tiny fish to gigantic whales. Noise in the ocean is a big problem but it is something that we may be able to control and reduce the noise. We are only now beginning to realise what an effect our noise has on the inhabitants of the ocean.

Plastics can be found in every ocean, even in the most remote. It is estimated that there are over 1 Million pieces of plastic for every square mile of the ocean and we are only just beginning to realise how much this affects marine life.

picture of 3 dolphins swimming in the oceanThe mysterious deaths of young dolphins is being investigated. The high levels of toxins found in the young dolphins was shocking and plastic could be part of the problem of young dolphins dying. Plastic breaks down into tiny fragments, micro plastics, along with all the industrial chemicals that have drained into the ocean, these form a potentially toxic soup. Tiny organisms can mistake these tiny plastics for food, larger organisms eat the plankton, larger fish eat the smaller fish and so on, and all are contaminated. Dolphins are at the top of this food chain and it is thought that the toxins can build up in their tissues so that the mother's milk can potentially kill her calf.

Industrial pollution and the discarding of plastics in the ocean must be tackled for the sake of all life in the ocean and beyond.

The wandering albatross colony in South Georgia 900 miles north of Antarctica, having been monitored for the past 30 years, is in trouble, in decline. Adult parent albatross scour the ocean for food for their chick but often unsuspectingly feed plastic to the chick and this can be fatal. A plastic tooth pick has been seen to rip open the chick's stomach, killing it. Plastic bags, rice food packaging etc. can choke an albatross chick if it is unable to regurgitate it.


St Andrew's