Gavin CleinmanHonors Environmental ScienceTake Home Test 25 January 20187. Wetlands are important because they provide many important environmental functions. Some wetlands are marshes, swamps, prairie potholes, article tundra, and floodplains. The Everglades in Florida and Camargue in France are two major wetlands. Wetlands can reduce the amount of impact that a storm or a flood may have on an area. They can also maintain a good quality of water in rivers, recharge groundwater, help reduce the impact of climate change, store carbon, be a home for a biodiversity community, and control pests. Wetlands can also provide a great amount of cultural, economic, and social benefits. They help by being popular tourist attractions, and by providing us with forestry and fisheries. Also, wetlands can reduce greenhouse gases. If we were to lose our wetlands, communities would be impacted by greater floods, they would lose a lot of money because they have lost one of their tourist attractions, the rivers would become less sanitary, the greenhouse gases would increase, and more. Wetlands are being threatened by climate change, the introduction of different weeds and pests, and human activity. 9. Invasive species can negatively impact habitats and communities in many ways. Invasive species tend to do well because they outcompete native species for food. In the 1990s silver carp escaped from a fish farm. Now, they are commonly found in the Missouri River of North America. They feed on plankton which is a common food for many native species of fish, such as the paddlefish. The cycle in which paddlefish feed is slower than that of a carp. There were so many carp that were eating more food at a faster pace that the paddlefish did not have enough food. This led to low levels of plankton in the area, and a low level of paddlefish because they weren’t able to get any food in that area. Invasive species often destroy the habitats of native species. Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific, however, recently they have been found along the southeast coast of the US, the Caribbean, and parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Since the Lionfish aren’t native to the area, they don’t have any predators. They feed on grouper and snapper which are important commercial fish. Lionfish have venomous spines that can be very painful and are posing a threat to the reefs and commercial fish species. If the Lionfish negatively impact the reefs, it could be destroying the habitat for a wide variety of species. 2. Eutrophication is an enrichment of water by nutrient salts that causes structural changes to the ecosystem. This has hit the coast of Qingdao in eastern China hard and has caused an abnormal growth of algae. The eutrophication process has been sped up because of human activities. Three things that can trigger or prevent structural changes are: the use of fertilizers, the discharge of waste water into water bodies, and the reduction of self purification capacity. Eutrophication starts from leaching from the excessive use of fertilizers. This causes a build up of nutrients in nearby bodies of water. Then increased nutrient plants grow rapidly. This includes algae growing on the surface of the water. This is called algal bloom. The build up of algae on the surface blocks the sunlight. This leads to the plants in the water to not get enough sunlight to live, so they die. This leads to reduced oxygen in the water. Because of the low amount of oxygen in the water, any animal life dies. 6. In 1960, the biggest estuary in the United States was very polluted. This estuary would be Chesapeake Bay. At the time, there was a great influx in the amount of people living nearby. This caused the pollution to go. The estuary was affected by point and nonpoint source pollution. Also, the phosphate and initiate levels skyrocketed and became way too high. Chesapeake Bay was also polluted with excess sediments from surface runoff. The surface runoff could have been caused by a decrement in the amount of vegetation nearby due to the increasing amount of people that moved there which means that they had to build new houses. Without the trees, there is nothing holding the dirt in place which leads to it becoming runoff into the estuary. A keystone species in the area, oysters, had a massive population drop. In 1983, the Chesapeake Bay Program was created. This program was created to integrate coastal management with local, state, and federal governments. They also wanted to integrate it with citizen’s groups. Unfortunately, by 2008 they made an update on the program and had realized that they had failed to meet their goals. They had spent 6 billion dollars in that program. However, the program did help clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Another polluted body of freshwater in 1960 was Lake Erie. It had become polluted by the many factories that surrounded its shores. These factories had dumped their waste and pollutants into the lake. The lake was also full of sewage from the city and fertilizer and pesticides from agricultural runoff. This led to Lake Erie containing high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen which led to eutrophication. In 1969 the Cuyahoga River, a river connected to Lake Erie, caught on fire. This attracted all kinds of bad publicity. This got congress involved and led to the Clean Water Act. This was a measure that was passed to tighten regulations on industrial dumping. This act and others like it made it possible for Lake Erie to become less polluted. 3. A marine species that have recently become endangered are the Chinok Salmon. This species of salmon was placed on the endangered list in 1994. These salmon are commonly found in California. They are very vulnerable when there are droughts. Unfortunately, in California, there is a record breaking drought going on. Therefore, the Chinok Salmon are extremely vulnerable. Hardly any young salmon have survived the last two years because of the high temperatures and the low water. The salmon travel through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to get to the sea. This river is controlled by man and sometimes they divert the water in the river. This is also a very dangerous process for the fish. This is how many of the salmon die until someone came up with an idea. This idea was to place trackers in the stomachs of 570 salmon smolts. These trackers were roughly the size of a grain of rice. This way, they can know where the salmon are so they can safely divert the water when there are no salmon nearby. They put the tracked salmon into a group of 400,000 salmon and then released them into the river. Sometimes, you can hear the bleeping of the trackers. Today, our coral reefs face many threats. One threat that our reefs face today is coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is caused by the ocean temperatures increasing. The ocean temperatures are increasing because of climate change. The coral bleaching kills algae which then leads to the death of polyps. Another threat is the increasing ocean acidity. There are many different causes to this. One cause is the use of sunscreen. When we go to the beach and put on sunscreen and gen go into the water, the sunscreen comes off of our bodies and ends up in the ocean. Ocean acidification is the decrease of pH in the oceans. This is caused by an increase of carbon dioxide in the water. 30-40% of carbon dioxide that is from human activities end up in lakes, rivers, and oceans. Some other threats include: destructive fishing practices which are cyanide fishing, dynamite fishing, bottom trawling, and muro-ami which is when you bang on the reef with sticks. Overfishing, pollution, careless tourism, and sedimentation are also destroying our reefs. The overfishing affects the ecological balance of the reefs, the tourism leads to people dropping anchors on reefs, or stepping on them, the pollution leads to poisoning the reefs, the sedimentation leads to smothering of reefs and coral mining is when people break off pieces of coral to either sell of keep. 8. In the Pacific Ocean, plastic and other trash accumulates in certain areas. Most of the trash in these areas are from humans dumping waste into the ocean. However, there is one place, called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where trash accumulates there without being dumped in that spot. This patch is from the west coast of North America to Japan. It is made up of the Western Garbage Patch, and the Eastern Garbage Patch. These patches are made by human dumping. All of the garbage patches are linked by the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone. This is where warm water from the South Pacific meets with cold water from the Arctic. This zone acts a little like a highway because it moved the trash from one patch to the next. The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG) is what bounds the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). An ocean gyre is a system of ocean currents that flow circular and are formed by Earth’s wind patterns and the forces that the rotation of the planet create. The (NPSG) is created by California, North Equatorial, Kuroshio, and North Pacific currents. The circular motion of the current in the gyre sucks in trash and then traps it. The main reason that the trash accumulates over time is because it is not biodegradable. If you look on a satellite you would not be able to the garbage patches because they plastics break into tiny micro plastics that can’t really be seen. Oceanographers have just recently discovered that 70% of the marine debris sinks to the bottom of the ocean. That’s another reason why you can’t really see the patches. 4. There are many different ways to catch fish these days. One method is trawling. In this method, fishers go and catch fish and shellfish that live on the ocean floor. While using this method, they destroy the ocean floor habitat. Also, these nets often catch endangered sea turtles and cause them to drown. Another method is called purse-seine fishing. This method is used to catch surface dwelling fish such as tuna. After a spotter plane finds the fish, the fishing boats drive up with their nets and capture the fish. These nets often catch large numbers of dolphins. Some fishing boats use a technique called long-lining. This technique involves long fishing line of about 60 miles long that are hung with thousands of baited hooks. Long-lines that these fishers use often kill sea turtles, sea birds, and dolphins. Another commonly used type of fishing is called drift-net fishing. In this technique, fishers drift out a net that extends 50 feet below the surface and is 40 miles long. These nets often catch fish that aren’t wanted. These fish are called bycatch. The fishermen throw bycatch back into the ocean and are often already dead. These nets also catch sea turtles and sea birds. Some nets, “ghost nets,” are nets that have sunk deep into the ocean and continue to capture and kill marine life until the net hit the ocean floor or someone recovers it. All of these techniques are effective in catching fish, but come at great costs to the oceans and species in the oceans. 10. Aquifers are very important, but they can be contaminated. Aquifers can be polluted by many human activities that take place near the surface of earth. Pollutants can reach aquifers by any man made or natural path that are on the surface and reach the aquifers. An example of a man made path would be a well. The way that we dispose of waste particularly point sources can have an impact on the quality of water in an aquifer. Some examples of these would be landfills, storm drain wells, septic tanks, and injection wells. To make it simple, anything that can increase the speed in which water from the surface can reach the aquifer, will have a huge impact. Common ways that quivers get polluted from nonpoint source pollution are addition of fertilizer, deicing chemicals, agrochemicals, and enhanced recharge from crops or any irrigated land along a road or near ditches. In the Highway Pond gravel pits south of Pocatello, the aquifers become completely exposed and are vulnerable to contaminants. In most cases when you try to clean an aquifer, water is pumped up a well, then cleaned, and then sent back down into the aquifer. Another method of cleaning an aquifer is by placing an additive in the groundwater that can make the contaminants less harmful or it can destroy them. Sometime the soil needs to be cleaned as well as the water. 5. Human activities are the main reasons why our oceans aren’t doing so well right now, but by doing these, we will be able to help our oceans recover. A very easy step that we can take is to just learn more about the ocean and its wildlife. This will help us to just care more about the ocean once we learn how great it is. Once you begin to care, you can go on and support organizations that are trying to protect our oceans. You can either volunteer to help them or you can donate. You can also help them and everyone else by picking up after yourself when you are leaving the beach. Another easy step you can take to help our oceans is to not flush garbage down the toilet or throw garbage into the water. Sometimes people will flush cat litter down the toilet and there are pathogens in the litter that are harmful to some species in the oceans. If we want to preserve or oceans and their organism, we shouldn’t buy items that are taken from the sea. Some examples are pieces of coral, and shark products such as their fins. We can also help the ocean by using less plastic. Plastic takes a long time to degrade and throughout this time, most of the plastic ends up into the oceans. This plastic kills tens of thousands of marine species a year. We can use reusable water bottles, reusable grocery bags, and reusable food containers to limit our plastic waste. We can also help the ocean by choosing the seafood that we eat carefully. Overfishing is huge problem and we can help put an end to overfishing by eating less seafood and by choosing seafood that is sustainable. By sustainable, I mean a species of fish that isn’t becoming endangered by overfishing. The greatest step we can take to help our oceans is to reduce our carbon footprints. Our oceans and reefs are being depleted by climate change. We can reduce climate change by driving less, using fluorescent light bulbs, and by avoiding overusing the thermometer. There are still many steps that we can take, but here are some that will help us get started on our path to save our oceans.