marine biologists

From: Pieter Arend Folkens (
Date: Mon Oct 09 2000 - 03:05:59 EDT

>How do marine biologist impact every day life?

Dear Syd:

Marine Biology covers a broad spectrum from slime to the great whales. All
along the spectrum, this variety of marine life can serve as a marker for
the health of the overall environment in general.

For example, if a local salmon stock is crashing, it says something about
general health of the spawning streams inland or over exploitation (over

On the east coast, northern right whales are essentially starving despite
total protection. The problem was traced back to an area where the
municipality of Boston was dumping low-level treated sewage. This outflow
overwhelmed the ecosystem that supported the major food source for right

Belugas in the St. Lawrence Seaway carry a heavy load of toxic materials
obtained through the food chain. It is suspected that this level of toxics
in the fat of these animals -- especially in the case of lactating females
which off-load the toxics on to their calves through the milk, may have an
undesirable impact on the reproductive life hisory of the animals, or
worse. These toxics are entering the marine ecosystem through runoff. If
the impact is severe in the marine environment, imagine what's going on in
the cities and on the farm lands.

Periodically, blooms of toxic plankton called "red tide" appear in various
places. When this enters the bodies of the bi-valve filter-feeders
(oysters, muscles, clams). Biologists studying these marine invertebrates
are in a position to alert the dining public to avoid these foods when red
tide is running rampant.

Also, in the previous examples, marine biologists can raise reasonable
questions and concerns about the health of the cities, farms, governmental
policies, and even economies. In addition to providing valuable data and
guidance to policy makers, biologists through their official agencies
(National Marine Fisheries Service for example) can control or even shut
down important local economies, and, in some cases, affect foreign policy.
This is particularly true in extreme instances -- such as endangered
animals and depleted fish stocks. These situations affect what the general
public pays for fish in the grocery stores, or the health of local
economies (fishermen buy fuel and supplies from land-based business for

There are numerous other examples of how marine biologists affect every day
life, but I think you get the main idea.


Pieter Folkens

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