Our ever-growing human population subjects the marine environment to a wide variety of stresses. Fishery depletion, global warming, sewage contamination, pesticide and fertilizer run-off, oil spills, toxic algal blooms, movement of invasive species, and a variety of pollutants such as heavy metals are some of the burdens that are being placed on the marine environment.
The problems have grown progressively worse so that entire ecosystems are now affected. Fifty years ago pollution and habitat destruction altered local habitats such as an individual beach or bay. The problems now are global, affecting large sections of the planet. Currently, almost all coral reefs throughout their tropical range are being damaged by environmental stresses. And PCBs, industrial chemicals that bioaccumulate in the food chain, have been found in surprisingly high concentrations in remote areas such as above the Arctic Circle.
Marine biotechnology is providing researchers with a new set of molecular tools to develop strategies to understand and begin to try to manage affected ecosystems. These tools are being used to identify, monitor, and remediate environmental problems. This basic research using modern biotechnology tools helps to address environmental issues by unraveling the complex interrelationships of organisms and their environment.
Some of the major marine pollution problems addressed in this section include coastal pollution from fecal contamination, oil spills, and the deterioration of coral reefs. Activities are provided that address sampling by traditional monitoring techniques and new biotechnology methods of accessing and dealing with contamination and damage. Application of biotechnology techniques is now employed to help resolve some of these issues.
PDF file for this project
IVA Introduction to Coral Reefs