History of the Polar Regions|
Date: Sat, 12 Jul 97 10:00:51 CDT
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Antarctic Pollution Sickens Fish
/** headlines: 134.0 **/
From: Andrew Gach <UncleWolf@worldnet.att.net>
Sick fish are sign of severe Antarctic pollution, scientist says
AUCKLAND (July 8, 1997 01:32 a.m. EDT) - Sick fish, a legacy from 40 years of Antarctic exploration, were proof that access to the frozen continent must be limited, a scientist who studied Antarctic pollution said Tuesday.
Clive Evans, deputy director of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland, said tons of rubbish dumped in the past four decades, was producing very sick fish from the polluted waters of Winter Quarters Bay, near McMurdo Station.
The area is home to the big U.S. polar base and the smaller New Zealand Scott Base.
Evans led a research team to study pollution including the effects on fish and marine life of waste and rubbish dumped by early Antarctic explorers.
He said there were 40 years of "accumulated muck" at Winter Quarters Bay.
While rigid rules on waste and rubbish disposal had been introduced, Evans said they might not safeguard the Antarctic from pollution if commercial activity, including mining and tourism, increased.
As the number of people engaged in commercial activities at Antarctica rose, the chances of a boat sinking or a major oil spill will be much greater, he said.
"(Winter Quarters Bay) was the site of an old rubbish dump for McMurdo Station and all the rubbish was bulldozed into the water or left on the ice, dropping into the water as the ice melted.
"This included fuel drums, broken machinery and vehicles, and much of the everyday rubbish generated by a small town of nearly 1000 people in the summer months.
"I am told there is even an airplane down there," he said.
Fish caught in the polluted waters of the bay had significantly higher levels of hydrocarbon substances in their livers than fish from other areas.
The polluted fish had an ion imbalance in their blood biochemistry, implying functional damage to the fish gills and possibly other structural damage.
"I would say that fish at Winter Quarters Bay are severely impacted," Evans said in the latest issue of the University of Auckland News.
He said it was fortunate that attitudes to waste and rubbish disposal had changed dramatically since the early days of Antarctic exploration and extreme efforts were being made to control pollution on the continent.
However, he said "the legacy of our earlier cavalier attitude remains.
"And it is an indicator too of the problem that Antarctica will face if activities there increase.
"If we want to keep it pristine, we have to keep a cap on commercial activities and limit access to those who serve as its guardians."
Evans said the rubbish problem was exacerbated in Antarctica where the cold water temperatures impeded the activity of microbial organisms which broke down pollution.