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Natural Awakenings

Deep Impact: Humans Assail the Seven Seas

Jul 01, 2008 03:00AM

Human activity has tainted all but 3.7 percent of the world’s oceans, and 41 percent are heavily affected, according to a new study published in Science. Cutting-edge mapping clearly details the hit the briny deep has taken from 17 human threats, including climate change, overfishing, fertilizer runoff, coastal development and shipping pollution. Only a few small isolated areas near both poles, endpoints of what ocean advocates consider “Earth’s last great bastion of nature,” remain relatively pristine, although not untouched.

The team of American, British and Canadian researchers, led by Benjamin S. Halpern, of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, found that rising ocean temperatures pose the biggest threat to marine ecosystems. Systems under particularly acute pressure include seamounts, mangrove swamps, seagrass beds and coral reefs. Regions currently suffering the most stress are the North and Norwegian seas, South and East China seas, Eastern Caribbean, North American eastern seaboard, Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, Bering Sea and the waters around Sri Lanka.


Primary Source: Grist.org

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