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What’s in your water? What you can do about it? Learn, Look, Act and Practice
Ocean Conservation, Fertilizer Runoff and Nutrient Overloading:
Every year people use fertilizers on their lawns, gardens, and rural farm crops. Runoff from phosphorus and fast-release nitrogen fertilizers is a major contributor to algae blooms in our lakes, ponds, estuaries, and coastal waters. These blooms reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water and give off toxins, both of which can make fish and marine mammals sick. Bottlenose Dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon (FL) have been dying at abnormally high rates since 2002. Dolphins are exhibiting fungal skin eating infections derived from toxic algae blooms. The sliming of our waters must stop. To maintain healthy lawns and crop production, there is no need for fertilizers, especially in phosphorous rich states like Florida.
Ocean Conservation Plastic Pollution:
Human usage of plastic products has reached epic proportions, and most of it is ending up in our waterways and oceans. Annually, 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. Every hour Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles, and every week we buy 500 million bottles of water. We generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste a year, but recycle only 1 to 2% of it*. 44% of all seabirds in US coastal waters eat plastic, and 267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage*. The oceans have become a ‘plastic soup’. Marine life ingests the chemicals from the plastics, which can lead a variety of serious health problems. Recent studies show that tens of thousands of marine mammals die every year from the effects of plastic pollution. *Source: National Geographic, 2009
Ocean Conservation Toxic Chemicals:
Toxic chemicals, such as BPA and arsenic, are getting into our water supply. One of the main culprits is the plastic water bottle. The plastic leaches BPA and other chemicals, which are absorbed by people when they drink the water, and can build up in the body’s fatty tissues. These chemicals can act as endocrine disrupters, altering the functioning of our hormonal system and leading to problems in people and wildlife. Endocrine disruptor chemicals are also getting into the oceans, leaching from plastic trash and commonly used materials like Gore-Tex, Teflon, and Scotchgard. Killer Whales in Puget Sound, WA have a lower-than-normal birth rate and higher mortality rates.
Watershed Conservation Mercury:
Mercury is being deposited in our soil and waterways from two main sources – chlorine-producing plants and coal-fired power plants. These plants emit around 50 tons of mercury and facilities that recycle auto scrap release 10 to 12 tons of mercury into the air every year. Mercury pollution is causing serious health problems and reproductive success issues in the common loon. In fact, loons living in the Northeast have been found with higher levels of mercury in their body than any other animal on the world. Common loons are particularly vulnerable to mercury because they are at the top of the food chain, spend almost all their time in the water, eat fish, and have long lifespan (up to 30 years). Due to all these factors, they are an excellent indicator species of ecosystem health.
What You Can Do:
1. Subscribe to Ocean River Institute eAlerts.
2. Sign our petition letters for sound and sustainable environmental practices, for example save Florida dolphins from deaths related to nutrient overloading.
3. Take Specific actions:
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Sherman’s Lagoon syndicated cartoonist Jim Toomey talks with Rob about the benefits of President Obama's National Ocean Policy.