Marine life has polluted the oceans for thousands of years, and that pollution is continuing to worsen.
The United Nations estimates that as many as 50 percent of marine life in the world is suffering from pollution.
The problems are not limited to the oceans.
Marine life is also polluting freshwater aquifers that feed the food chains of humans, animals and plants.
A new study from scientists at the University of Southampton found that in some areas, the presence of marine organisms can affect the quality of water in local rivers and streams.
In others, they can alter nutrient flows, which can lead to an increase in salinity and pH levels, as well as changes in water clarity and flow.
The researchers analyzed data collected from 11 sites across the UK over several years, including the Thames River, the River Llandudno, the Thames, the Tyne, the Rhine, the Barents Sea and the North Sea.
They found that the presence or absence of marine animals, including marine organisms such as mussels, mussels and shrimp, increased the amount of nutrients in the water, which in turn altered the flow of the river.
“The results show that fish populations are not immune to the effects of ocean pollution,” said Professor Paul F. Boulton, from the School of Biological Sciences at the university.
“For instance, mussel pollution can alter the amount or shape of the pores of the mussel’s shell, resulting in a reduction in the size and quality of the water it filters.
Similarly, muslin mussels can affect fish growth by altering the way they fertilize their larvae.
These effects are likely to occur in a variety of ways, including by altering nitrogen cycling, by changing the amount and quality or by changing pH levels.”
While some of the effects were more apparent in areas where mussels were present, other effects were found across the board, and in some cases, the effects could be very detrimental.
“While mussels are a well-known cause of nutrient pollution in rivers, their impact on aquatic ecosystems is far more complex and subtle than previously realised,” said Dr. Glyn Roberts, lead author of the study.
“We can now predict that they will play a role in reducing freshwater quality and in the flow, and therefore salinity, of the rivers and the rivers themselves.”
This research has provided us with a new insight into the mechanisms of the interaction between mussels’ impacts and the water quality in the river systems.
As we look to the future, we must consider how the mussels themselves will impact the future of our rivers and their downstream ecosystems.
“For more information on ocean pollution, visit the UN’s website: www.un.org/oceans/ocean-pollution.php