Tag: pollution

Top Ten Most Wanted, Continued (#2)

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

As this series nears its end, we would like to talk about a huge offender to not just oysters and other mollusks, but everything that lives in the ocean. Not all threats are other animals, or even living organisms at all. Some of the most deadly predators are unseen.

Ocean Acidification Most Wanted Poster

2) Ocean Acidification
Ocean Acidification is a huge concern in the sustainability in our oceans in the not-so-distant future. Our oceans naturally absorb carbon dioxide, and their capacity to contain CO2 is not endless, as once was thought. The more carbon emissions we create (from excessive burning of fossil fuels), the more acidic our oceans are becoming. These increasingly acidic waters have a huge effect on our ecosystems, beginning in areas where water is shallow and slowly spreading outward. Oysters and other mollusks have trouble getting the energy to build up their shells, and many spats expend all their energy and die before given the chance. On the other hand, oyster predators such as crabs have adapted to grow thicker shells to defend against the acidic waters. Starfish have been documented to consume 20% more oysters when the oysters are submitted to acidic waters (as the animals will have thinner, weaker shells and be much smaller than healthy oysters.) With food supply for these predators getting shorter, the food chain in the ecosystems they reside in is becoming more and more off balance.

Oysters

Sustainability: How Do We Keep the Ocean Healthy?

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

While researching recent “oyster,” “pearl,” and “ocean” information I came across some interesting material concerning our environment which is a huge proponent in the Pearl industry. Since pearls are made within a living being, it is very important to keep that being healthy and safe. Since oysters need a specific environment, the topic of sustainability comes into play.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has a mission to protect human health and the environment. Within this mission of protecting the environment arises the topic of sustainability. The EPA website says “sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.” This includes maintaining the conditions under which humans and nature exist in fruitful harmony. It would appear the overall main goal of the US EPA is to preserve the environment for present and future generations. This is very important to us as humans in ensuring that we will continue to have the water, materials and resources needed to protect and perpetuate human health within our environment. Not only does this include those material items, but also other living animals. So many of the foods we eat depend on clean waterways for living and drinking, and clean air for breathing. The topic of sustainability has developed as a byproduct of the consequences of rapid consumption of natural resources and population growth, which in turn uses more resources as well. In its early years the EPA  served as an overseer to the nation’s environment; however, now it has set theories, tools, and laws to control, and now even more importantly, prevent pollution within the work force and daily living. Today with all the technological resources available, the EPA is working toward the “next level of environmental protect.” The objective of promoting ‘green’ business practices will help cut down the carbon footprint in terms of land management, sediments management, waste management, and land use and watershed protection.

Oysters on Lines

The EPA works with ecosystems research to provide goals to help protect and sustain natural habitats for wildlife. It is stated that “to accomplish this goal, EPA must assess the condition of the environment, diagnose causes of impairment and forecast the impact of alternative activities and policy scenarios.”

Protecting and maintaining drinking water sources and public water systems is also a very important aspect in promoting sustainability. The nation’s wetlands and water ways are slowly being overrun with human pollutants. EPA researchers are working to provide the scientific information to support of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. “Research and technical assistance is focused on several major areas that include drinking water and water quality, wastewater, water resources, and water security”. For example, the average American uses 120 gallons of water a day, in order to continue with this much consumption the United States alone would need 37,800,000,000 gallons of water in a single day!

In order to save the environment, the EPA suggests there should be perfect equilibrium between the three pillars of sustainability – environment, society, and economy. The tridisciplinary work will help arrange for a more environmentally sustainable future.

Although this doesn’t say much about pearls, it leads to more information down the road about our oceans, rivers, and estuaries. Stay tuned for more sustainability blogs concerning our most favorite jewel: pearls! Next up, learn about how our oceans are being affected.

 

http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/index.html

Photo by David Liittschwager

Ocean Acidification Puts Sea Life (Including Oysters) At Risk

An oyster releasing sperm
In some coastal waters, oyster spat production has already been reduced by half.

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

The topic of global warming has been around for quite some time. Concerned citizens have been discussing the effects on pollution causing damage to our ozone layer for years now, and we all know the negative effects that it has had on our environment. But did you know that CO2 emissions also have a strong negative effect on our oceans? In fact, oceans absorb such a high amount of greenhouses gasses that they are actually slowing the effects of global warming on the surface. They absorb 22 million tons of CO2 in just one day, causing oceans to see a 25% increase in acidity in the past 200 years.

A snail affected by acidified water.
This snail’s shell has been corroded by CO2, giving it the pearlized look near the center.

If this trend continues, before the year 2100 we will lose much of our sea life, beginning with shelled organisms such as oysters, lobsters, shellfish, and coral, and eventually spreading to effect fish and other sea life. Even in the early stages, these changes will ultimately unbalance ecosystems in our ocean and offset the food chain. In addition to this, oceans can only handle absorbing so much of our carbon emissions. Eventually, their ability to absorb these gasses will diminish, furthering the effects of global warming in our atmosphere.

Carbonic acid rising from the sea floor.
In Castello Aragonese, bubbles of CO2 rise from the sea floor and dissolve to form carbonic acid. This shows us oceans all over the world could look like in the future.                           For comparison, the photo at the top of this post was taken just a few yards away and shows healthy sea floor.

The sea around Castello Aragonese is very acidic because of carbonic acid rising from the sea floor due to volcanic vents. Studies of this ecosystem have given us insight into what much of our oceans will look like within the next 100 years. The sea floor is covered in sea grass devoid of coral or other organisms that would normally flourish. In fact, there are not many organisms other than grass, jellyfish, and barnacles – which makes for a very unbalanced ecosystem.

Don’t want that to become the global picture of our oceans? National Geographic has a list of things you can do within your every day life to help save our oceans. Join Pearls International in our quest for sustainability!

View more stunning photos here.

source: nationalgeographic.com