Monday, August 14, 2006

A Warning for the Georgia Coast

From Sunday's AJC:

Dissolved oxygen, the breath of life for shrimp, blue crabs, oysters and fish, is declining at an alarming rate. Within 10 years, Verity, a professor at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, predicts there won't be enough left for the sea life we love to eat. Those creatures will be replaced by jellyfish, which don't need as much dissolved oxygen and feed on the type of organisms that grow in a polluted estuary, he says.

Verity's already witnessed change. Between 1987 and 2000, his sampling showed a 70 percent increase in jellyfish.

Verity and other scientists who have researched similar changes worldwide say they can sum up the cause in a single word: people.

As more homes, condominiums, marinas and businesses are built on the coast, pollution increases in tidal creeks and estuaries. Treated sewage discharges and storm water runoff carry fertilizers from lawns, golf courses and farms and oil and other pollutants from pavement and rooftops.

"We need to stop what we're doing now and either mitigate or reduce [the impacts] because we're going downhill in a hurry," Verity said.

Personally, I don't eat any type of shellfish or other water scavengers. But a lot of people do. This sounds like it would have both an economic impact as well as an ecological impact.


Abacquer said...

The problem is that everything is connected, although you or I might not eat shellfish or water scavengers, other animals do. (Impacts like this at the low end of the food chain tend to dramatically affect everything above for starters.) All for the want of a horseshoe nail and all that...

Button Gwinnett said...

I agree. You can't just go around messing with ecological systems.

BTW, nice book review on "An Inconvenient Truth." I'll put that on my "to read" list. I would also recommend Discovery Channel's special with Tom Brokaw, "Global Warming: What You Need to Know."