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Marine organisms in danger, higher than ever
#1
Being 71 percent of the earth surface covered by ocean, the environmental changes are echoed greater in marine organisms. Marine world encompass a variety of lifeforms like plankton, animals, corals and reefs. Planktons consists of Phytoplankyon and Zooplankton. Various factors influence the extermination of these marine organisms, among them the most threatening are the below.

Oil spills - Oil spills have become continuing episodes since 1980s. The oil spills around the world have costed billions of marine lives. It has become one of the strongest factors responsible for the endangerment of the marine inhabitants. The percentages of endangered, not recovered species due to the oil spills are ten times greater than the recovered. There are 620 marine species population red listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature which could be Extinct, Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable. The disaster levels of Gulf of Mexico oil spill are yet to be determined.

Global Warming - As the basic block of aquatic life phytoplankton play a large role. The rise in temperature in the oceanic surface creates density variation in the system, hence the nutrient rich layer sinks leaving the denser phytoplankton above. This leads the phytoplankton nutrient deprived, which in turn affects the photosynthesis.

Ozone layer depletion
- The ultraviolet rays could seriously affect the survival of the phytoplankton. The extinction of the primary member of the food chain could result in changes in rest of the food chain.

According to a recent study by Peter Muller 38 fishes were found in the Arctic island for the first time, among them ten of them are yet to be identified. The climate changes could be one of the reasons for migration of the species.

In a situation where environmental factors itself acts suicidal e.g. Global warming, Climate changes etc. Human contribution adds up to the factors that lead the marine ecosystem to danger e.g. Pollution, Over fishing etc. The dolphin massacre in Japan is the best example of human atrocity. It is time to realize that one should protect the nature for protecting oneself from tomorrow’s awaiting health hazards.

The scope of Biotechnology is extended to bioremediation. Oleophilic bacteria are group of oil metabolizing bacteria. Among the ‘Oil Eating Bacteria’ Pseudomonas putida, a gram negative rod bacterium is known for its bioremedial property. It is patented by Anand Chakraborthy, the organism was genetically engineered so that it do not produce any disastrous side effects or by- products. Today, a number of genetically modified variants are available for P.putida. Another oil eating bacteria, Alcanivorax borkumensis is a gram negative rod-shaped bacterium known for its property to break down the alkanes and to use them as its source of energy.

The limitations in using these organisms on oil leakage are the accumulation of these organisms in the sea, oxygen depletion and over consumption of the nutrients might finally result in its unavailability to the inhabitants. George Huber and his colleagues created ‘Green Petrol’, petrol from plants. Biofuels could an extend minimize disasters like oil spillage. Let us put our efforts together to conserve the nature and its inhabitants.
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#2
During Mexico’s oil spill in 2010, a lot of sea creatures were affected. Like for the cetaceans (whales and dolphins); since these animals need to surface the water to breathe, there is a tendency that the oil from the top can enter their blowholes, eyes, and even mouths. When this happens, such creatures may have difficulty in breathing, seeing, and may later on develop internal organ damage, respectively.

Same goes for the sea turtles; oil entering into their body can be very harmful. Hatchlings or baby turtles, due to their size, may also have trouble surfacing the oil-filled water to breathe, causing their eventual death.

Seabirds when they go diving for fish can be covered in oil and may have a hard time flying again or may be totally unable to do so. They may also have the tendency to leave their eggs behind, when their habitat is damaged by the oil spill.

For fishes affected by the oil spill, oil droplet ingestion would be the main problem. Larvae and other fishes tend to take in anything they come across in the water, which would include the oil droplets. Such ingestion is known to cause physiologic problems, mutations, and even death.

The oil spill can also affect wetlands. It was shown that there were extensive damage to algae, coral reefs, sea grasses, and mangroves after the Mexico incident. This is of concern since these areas serve as feeding grounds and even nurseries to a great number of marine species which later migrate to the ocean.

Usually when an oil spill happens, a chemical dispersant is sprayed onto oil slicks to break up oil particles and accelerate its dispersion. However, such can cause an adverse effect to organisms involved. A recent study even suggests that this kind of treatment might actually be more dangerous than the oil spill itself. It was a study conducted by Professor Guy Claireaux from the University of Brest, France. It was discovered that though the dispersants reduce negative effects to surface organisms, such chemicals can also cause contamination to creatures underneath.

Science daily asserts, “Though applying dispersants at sea may reduce the environmental and economic impacts of an oil spill reaching the shoreline, these results show that the choice of response deployed to deal with a spill involves a trade-off between the effects at the surface and in the water column.”
Lyka Candelario, RN
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Marine organisms in danger, higher than ever00