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sea mammals Marine Contamination




According to the United Nations Joint Group of Experts on
the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP) of 1972,
marine pollution is ?the introduction by man directly or indirectly,
of substances or energy to the marine environment resulting in deleterious effects such as harm to living resources, hazards to human health;  hindrance of marine activities including fishing, impairing the quality for use of sea water, and reduction of amenities?(Clark 3).  Since the beginning of modern civilization, man has  continuously  polluted the oceans.  As more and more pollution entered the  Earth?s oceans and problems became evident, man has been given the obligation to prevent further damage. Sewage, marine debris, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, oil, and radioactive materials constitute six major categories  of marine pollutants that mankind needs to prevent from entering  the worlds oceans.  
Sewage has a short lifespan, it decomposes due to microscopic organisms like bacteria and fungi.  However, in the respiration process microorganisms consume oxygen, creating ?biological oxygen demand?(Johnston 56). If  there is too little oxygen in the water to support the biological oxygen demand for these biodegraders, they die and so do all the plants and animals that depend on them for food.  When raw sewage is dumped into an area without strong currents to disperse it, the oxygen is likely to be used up.  When this happens, the only form of decomposition that can take place is anaerobic which takes a very long time. This process is called eutrophication (Clark 5).  When nutrient rich sewage enters the ocean, an extreme overgrowth of toxic phytoplankton. This process causes what is known as red-tides that kill many forms of marine life.  
Marine debris is another form of pollution that is a major threat to the earth?s oceans.  Marine debris consists of discarded plastic,  glass, and metal that does not easily decompose.  Some debris  such as abandoned ships and old cars that sink attract fish because they form artificial reefs.  Some artificial reefs have been purposely made by humans out of sinking marine debris for the sole purpose of providing sea life with an ecosystem.  The pollution problem is more centered around floating marine debris such as plastic.  Because plastic floats it constitutes a threat to sea birds and mammals who either eat it or become entangled in it.  Each year 30,000 northern fur seals as well as hundreds of thousands of other marine animals die due to being entangled in discarded plastic(Johnston 63).  These plastics when eaten  can lodge in the intestines and stomach to block the digestive tract to cause malnutrition and death.  Not only does marine debris effect sea life, but humans as well.  Marine debris interferes with ship navigation and litters beaches along coastal water.  
Toxic chemicals are extremely hazardous to the oceans.  Three of the most deadly chemicals are constantly running off land into water. These chemicals; DDT, PCBs, and dioxins belong to a family of industrial and agricultural chemicals that do not brake down easily in our environment.  When these chemicals enter the ocean they are first absorbed by phytoplankton and zooplankton.  These planktons are an important part of a fish?s diet, therefore; fish eat them and the toxic chemicals are stored in the fish?s fatty tissue.  Because fish are low on the food chain, each time the toxic chemicals are passed on from predator to predator the concentration gets higher.  High concentrations of these chemicals cause premature birth ,  birth defects, nerve damage, learning disabilities, and remain in the fatty tissue of marine animals.  
Another major pollutant found in our oceans is heavy metals.  Heavy metals are dense elements such as lead, mercury, and cadmium.  Each of these elements has a different and harmful effect on sea life.  Lead can make fish toxic for consumption and create more lead in the food chain.  In animals,  lead causes delayed development of offspring, nervous system disorders, and learning disabilities.  Mercury is very toxic, even in low concentrations.  It disrupts the central nervous system functions in animals.  Mercury is extremely dangerous because mixed with other pollutants, the toxicity can be very deadly.  Cadmium becomes toxic to sea animals by eventually replacing the calcium, thus making bones fragile and easily broken.  
Oil as ocean pollution  has been ... more

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Blue Whales




Balaenoptera Musculus, or the blue whale, is the largest mammal in the world.  This enormous mammal can grow to be 110 feet long and weigh as much as 190 tons.  That's longer than two city buses and the total weight of 30 elephants.  This giant is powered by a heart the size of a taxi-cab.  The blue whale's of the Antarctic grow larger than those of the Northern Hemisphere.  Also, the females tend to be slightly larger than the males of the same age.  These mammals are bluish-gray in color, with some paler spots.  Algae tends to accumulate on their bellies causing a yellowish or mustard color. It has a mottled appearance with a broad, flattened U-shaped head.  Fifty to ninety throat grooves run from the mouth to the belly.  Instead of teeth,  blue whales have 270 to 400 black baleen plates on each side of their mouths.  These plates are about forty inches long and twenty-two inches wide.  The blue whale has a tiny, stubby dorsal fin set far back on its body.  It has a 20 foot wide, slightly notched,  triangular flukes, which is propelled by an extremely thick tail stock.  The flippers on this creature are long and slender, and are about one-seventh of the whale's body length.  The blue whale's most prominent feature is its exceptionally fleshy splashgaurd, which surrounds the blowholes at the front and sides.  This whale spouts a single slender jet that soars forty to fifty feet high.
The blue whale has very poor eyesight, no sense of smell, and has no sense of taste.  However, the blue whale does have  well-developed senses of touch and hearing.  This large mammal has a life span of about eighty years.
At this time there is not too much known about the blue whale's behavior.  Blowing and diving patterns vary according to the whale's activity.  The blue whale blows every ten to twenty seconds for a total of two to six minutes, when relaxed, and then dives.  They usually stay submerged for five to twenty minutes, but can stay under for up to 40 minutes.  Blue whale's usually dive to around 490 feet, but can go deeper if need be.  When swimming slowly, the whale rises at a shallow angle.  He blows as soon as the head begins to brake the surface.  The head disappears below the surface and a long expanse of the back rolls into view.  The dorsal fin normally appears some time after the blow has dispersed and the head has disappeared.  The dorsal fin is visible only briefly before the whale arches its back in preparation for the dive.  Sometimes the whale arches its tail stock, but often simply sinks below the surface.
The blue whale can accelerate to speeds of over 19 miles per hour when it is being chased, but usually he swims much slower.  Adult whales rarely, if ever, breach clear of the water.  Youngsters, however, have been observed breaching at an angle of 45 degrees, and landing on their stomachs or sides.
Blue whales are close knit and are usually found in groups of 1-5.  You may see up to 30 whales gathered at the feeding grounds.  Most feeding seems to take place during the evening and early morning.  The whales produce ultrasonic chirps and whistles when feeding.  They use a low frequency moan to call to each other.
This mammal uses its powerful muscles in the tail to drive the great fan-shaped blades (flukes) up and down to propel itself through the water.  It takes him very little energy to swim.  Their bodies are designed better than man-made missiles or submarines.  They have a fine oil that lubricates their smooth, thin skin and reduces friction.  Blue whales have extremely flexible and marvelously streamlined bodies that help them glide through the water without a ripple.  Their bones are light and spongy, making them naturally buoyant.  They neither rise nor sink, but can stay at any given depth without any effort.  Dorsal fins and flippers give the whale stability and keep them right side up.  The flippers rotate at the shoulders and are used for steering and braking.
Blue whales descend from early land mammals.  Millions of years ago the richness of life in the ... more

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