Notes for Chapter 17:
Additions of Materials to the Oceans

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Case History: On the Waterfront

         Featured Vessel:
             ORV (oil recovery vessel) Plover

RQ 17.1: Why was the ORV Plover considered valuable
even though in its history (at the time of the text publication)
it had never had to skim oil from near its mooring in Puget

I. The Entry of Industrial Materials into the Oceans
        terms: PAHs (toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)

RQ 17.2 (see also Fig. 17.4): Of the following, which is the
most significant overall source of adding industrial products to
the oceans? 1) shipwrecks; 2) direct discharging of liquid
materials from the coast or ships; 3) airborne pollutants;
4) rivers

II. Oil
       terms: aliphatic vs. aromatic - organic molecules

RQ 17.3: Why was crisis averted when the oil tanker, Matsuzake,
        ran ashore headed into Puget Sound in 1988?

         Featured Vessels:
             Exxon Valdez, source of 11 million gallons
                of spilled crude oil in Prince William Sound,
                Alaska, 1989
            Castillo de Bellver, still holds record for largest
                 spill of 78 million gallons, in 1983 off
              South Africa (and this is still smaller than the 240+
                million gallons dumped in the Persian Gulf in
              during the Gulf War in 1991, or the 140 million gallons
                released by the burning oil well, near Ciudad
                del Carmen, off Bahia del Campeche, Mexico).

    a) The Effects of Oil on Organisms
        terms: MFOs (mixed function oxidases are enzymes many
            organisms have for internal detoxification that are capable
            of converting toxic hydrocarbons to harmless substances)

RQ 17.4: How is oil dangerous to a marine animal such as a bird?
        How does it actually cause mortality? Give an example of
        a marine organism that actually benefits from the presence
        of oil.

    b) Behavior of Oil Spilled at Sea (over 1 billion gallons in last decade)
        terms: slick, mousse, dispersants (emulsifiers), containment

RQ 17.5: In what ways doe an oil slick actually attract organisms
        to come in contact with it, both from above and below?

RQ 17.6: Compare the advantages and the disadvantages of applying
        dispersants to an oil spill. Under what conditions are their
        advantages most likely to exceed their disadvantages? If oil
        is especially dangerous at the surface, where it can spread as
        slicks and kill birds and fishes, why is promoting its sinking
        not always best for long-term recovery?

    c) Effects of Oil on Shore Communities

         Featured Vessels:
             Torrey Canyon, spilled oil on 75 km of British
                    shores in 1967 (12th biggest spill to date: 38.2
                    million gallons).
             Sea Empress, spilled oil in the same area in 1996.
             Erika, killed 200,000 birds in a spill off France
                    in January, 2000.
             Jessica, spilled oil in the Galápagos archipelago
                    in January, 2001.
             Florida, was a barge that ran aground in 1969 near
                    Falmouth, Massachusetts, which fouled 500
                    acres of salt marsh and 5,000 acres of shallow
                    sandy bottom with refined No. 2 fuel oil (see
                    pp. 404-405).

RQ 17.7: Explain how the grounding of the barge, Florida, near
        Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was different from many other spills
        in terms of the type of oil spilled, where it was spilled, and
        how long it has taken to recover.

RQ 17.8: Why is it often difficult to measure the impact of oil
        spills after about a decade?

    d) Limited Effectiveness of Present Cleanup Efforts

RQ 17.9: Based on the experience of Exxon Valdez and more
        recent spills, what are two promising approaches for
        promoting the recovery of oil-fouled shores?

    e) At Risk by Oil - The Sea Surface Microlayer
            terms: nonpoint sources, surface microlayer

RQ 17.10: What are some "non-point" sources of oil pollution
        in the seas. Even though it is very thin, why can a
        persistent surface microlayer of oil remain a toxic problem?

    f) Oil and Other Substances

II. Sewage

    a) Effect of Sewage on Marine Productivity
            terms: eutrophication, indicator species

RQ 17.11: What are a few observable affects of sewage dumped
      into the ocean, say, off the California coast or near the
      mouth of the Thames River near London earlier in this

    b) Sewage and Human Health
            terms: coliform bacteria, primary vs. secondary
                vs. tertiary treatment

III. Synthetic Hydrocarbons
            terms: synthetic hydrocarbons, DDT, PCBs

    a) Pesticides and Seabird Reproductive Failures
            terms: biomagnification

        Featured Environmentalist:
              Rachel Carson - Scientist and author of the
                    landmark books:
                      Silent Spring (1962)
                      The Sea Around Us (1951)
                            The Edge of the Sea (1955)
                            (and others)
                   More Links: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12

                 Disturbed by the profligate use of synthetic chemical pesticides after World
                 War II, Carson reluctantly changed her focus in order to warn the public
                 about the long term effects of misusing pesticides. In Silent Spring (1962) she
                 challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, and
                 called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world.

                 Carson was attacked by the chemical industry and some in government as an alarmist,
                 but courageously spoke out to remind us that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world
                 subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem. Testifying before Congress in
                 1963, Carson called for new policies to protect human health and the environment.

                 Excerpt from "Biography of Rachel Louise Carson" © Linda Lear, 1998 at

                Pre-Silent Spring "green movement"

RQ 17.12: Explain the relationship between the use of the pesticide,
            DDT, and reproductive failure in brown pelican and other birds
            (even the Bermuda petrel 1,100 km from the N. American
            mainland). Be sure that your explanation includes details
            of the phenomenon known as biomagnification. See the Rachel
            Carson links above for background on how DDT bans were

    b) Persistence in the Environment of Chlorinated Hydrocarbons
            terms: chlorinated hydrocarbons (incl. DDT and PCBs)

    c) Heavy Metals
            terms: heavy metals

    d) Radioactivity
            terms: isotope

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This page created 5/2/01 © D.J. Eernisse, Last Modified 5/7/01