NAME: SABA HASSAN
COMPUTER NUMBER: 15343
THE WESTMINSTER SCHOOL
INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH INVESTIGATION.
BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM LOSS
To what extent do human activities effect marine biodiversity and ecosystem loss?
To begin with, the oceans cover 70% of our planet. The ocean is home to millions of species. The loss of marine biodiversity is continuously weakening the ocean ecosystem. Life in the ocean is an essential component of climate regulation. For ages, our dependence and carelessness towards oceans has been causing harm to the world’s oceans and today our blue planet that we call earth is in deep crisis.
Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s great marine biodiversity that includes about 1000 marine fish species has drastically deteriorated. The marine ecosystems face a lot of threats that have had a bad effect. Scientists have research and predicted that the local waters are at the verge of ecosystem collapse, which would have a disastrous effect on marine biodiversity.
Philippines: Climate change and the frequent use of fossil fuels there is damaging the ocean. Climate change is considered a very serious threat to the oceans. Rising temperatures due to global warming are weakening marine species. Marine life is also damaged by ocean acidification, when excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes the sea water to become more acidic.
Australia: Australia is home to The Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system on Earth which is even visible from outer space. It’s incredibly rich and diverse. It’s home to countless species of colorful fish, mollusks and starfish, turtles, dolphins and shark but sadly The Great Barrier Reef has been given a D on a report card for its overall health for the fifth year in a row. The results of the annual report card were based on data collected before this year’s climate change-induced bleaching event that killed about a fifth of the reef’s coral, suggesting next year’s results will be even worse.
U.A.E: In U.A.E there have been oil spills at the oceans especially at the capital that is Abu Dhabi. The oils chemical constituents are poisonous to few marine species. The construction of artificial islands has also been effecting marine life, marine biologists showed that the newly-born fish could not survive in conditions along the shores of Dubai due to constant construction and environmental alterations. Overall the construction of artificial islands has decreased U.A. E’s aquatic life drastically.
Personally, I try to do what I can to help this. For example, whenever I visit the beach I make sure it is clean and no plastic reaches the water as I know plastic is bad for marine species and I try to raise awareness about this issue, as I think many people are unaware of how badly humans have impacted upon marine biodiversity and ecosystem loss. I had recently heard about The Great Barrier Reef dying and it made me feel like we as humans are killing other species, this had made me more interested in what is happening to the marine life and also more worried.
As I’ve already talked about what is happening, globally and nationally, for a better understanding of the situations, we need to know the why it’s happening and what are its consequences without which we cannot solve the problems.
Case Analysis of Hong Kong
Fish stocks have dropped dramatically because of unsustainable fishing practices, regulations not being strict and a lack of marine protected areas continue to worsen this situation. Hong Kong began its life as a fishing village and for years this industry has flourished. But development, pollution and over-fishing all took their toll on marine biodiversity.
The Chinese white dolphin and Finless porpoise that had made home in Hong Kong are now extremely endangered. Marine life is drastically going down. At the moment, their marine ecosystems are still diverse yet they lie on the verge of total collapse. Furthermore, most of the city is dependent on the fishes for food and trade and as there are now lesser fishes, poverty is increasing
Case Analysis of Philippines
Use of fossil fuels is warming the oceans and making the sea water more acidic which means acidification is taking place as well as global warming. Additionally, too much plastic, specifically plastic bags is being thrown and a plastic bag floating on the sea surface resembles a jelly-fish, which are eaten by many species of fish and turtles, eating it is severely dangerous and has caused marine deaths. Too many fishes are being fished out which too worsens the situation.
Fish catch is already decreasing from years and many species living the oceans in Philippines are now endangered such as, The Reef Manta Ray that’s the largest of all rays in the whole world, Napoleon wrasse a tropical fish, Giant clams and many more marine species are at the brink of extinction because of human activities. Global warming is making the sea unsuitable for a lot of marine species resulting in them having to move somewhere else which means habitat is loss.
Case Analysis of Australia
As a result of oddly high ocean temperatures, some of the coral on The Great Barrier Reef has suffered severely. Coral are now starving to death because of the rising ocean temperatures and the raised levels of acid in the ocean which are causing the algae to die; their food source. This together with the heat, keeps stressing the coral until it finally starts turning white and starts to bleach.
The Great Barrier Reef is recently being said to be dying. This year, Australia witnessed the most upsetting mass coral bleaching event that has ever been recorded. The reef is no longer as strong as it used to be before, and it’s having a hard time coping with a total of 3 bleaching events in about only 18 years. About 93% of the reef has been affected by the bleaching, which is currently putting the reef in the verge of extinction. As it is very weak at the moment some people have said that is dead, however there is still hope for it. As The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most diverse ecosystems, there is a lot of biodiversity loss taking place there at the moment.
Causes: Oil spills are taking place at shores and the oils chemical constituents are poisonous to marine organisms. This can affect organisms from both internal exposures to oil through digestion or inhalation and from an external exposure through its skin and eye irritations. Oil has also proven to smother few small species of fish. Due to the construction of artificial island, marine biologists showed that the newly-born fish could not survive in conditions along the shores of Dubai due to constant construction and environmental alterations. It also caused disturbances in the reproductive cycles of species of fish that were near the shores.
Consequences: The number of marine organisms around U.A.E has been drastically dropping due to this. Many species to which the shores were suitable no longer are so they are now homeless which means habitat is loss. Oil spills have resulted in the death of many fishes along the shores and as there are less fishes, fisherman are too now at loss, they are either losing jobs or earning lesser income. U.AE is also home to Dugong a marine mammal that is endangered and could be at risk for extinction because of these reasons.
The future of marine animal populations is determined in great part by two variables: the rate at which the ocean is warming, and the rate of its exploitation. Where these rates are low, the chance for adaptation and recovery will be increased. Where they will continue rising, the loss of marine biodiversity will be severe. If we continue to throw our waste in oceans, disturb marine ecosystems and global warming. The future of marine ecosystems looks very devastating, to start with there are many marine animals that are currently highly endangered, if we do not give them much attention, this could be their end, the could extinct in a few years. Reefs are home to most marine organisms and currently reefs are getting weaker day by day, so at this pace in a near future they are bound to be found completely dead. If we keep ignoring the fact that we are killing marine species, the future obviously will lead to the death of marine organisms and ecosystems. Hence, fishermen will no longer find enough fish to sell or eat. The food supply of the world in the future will be considerably changed due to habitat loss. This change will trigger overwhelming worldwide consequences. The ocean will no longer be as diverse as it is right now. The death of marine organisms will also mean that oil found in the ocean which is made by marine organisms will stop being produced.
Possible Courses of Action:
Although marine ecosystems current condition is getting worse and worse day by day but there is still hope to reverse all of this only if we give it the attention it needs. If we want to see a healthy ocean free of pollution and full of life and biodiversity we should firstly, sustainable fishing should be encouraged and unsustainable fishing should be discouraged and made illegal as unsustainable fishing leads to overfishing. The sewage waste thrown in oceans could first go through water treatment as it pollutes the ocean and this should become a law in all countries. Taking out oil from oceans should be done more carefully so no oil spills are caused. We should try reducing global warming by reducing all carbon emissions and the use of carbon sequestering so the temperature of our oceans stop decreasing. Threatened and endangered species and marine habitats should be protected by making sure that all species at-risk are fittingly listed for protection and large marine protected areas should be established all over the world and those already established should be enhanced. Lastly, the most important thing is raising awareness, telling everyone what’s happening so they to try to stop it. If a major junk of people does not even know what is happening how can we all stop it?
I previously wasn’t as aware of how big of an impact human activity has had on marine biodiversity and ecosystems, I was aware that it did, but I didn’t think it would be this huge. I now realize that marine species aren’t just dying but are being killed by our hands in more ways than one, some ways that are direct some that we did not think would even harm them. If the future our oceans will be lifeless we’ll have no one to point fingers to but ourselves cause each of us in our ignorant ways did contribute to this. None of us even realize that we are being completely selfish not just to marine species but also to our own future generations because the loss of marine life will in turn effect our future generations when they have lesser food supply and less income is generated due to less income. Now I want to make a difference, I want to spread this, I want to persuade people to help this, I want to make them aware of everything they are unknowingly doing. I want to make this small contribution to the betterment of this situation.