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Excess nutrient concentrations, caused by a nearby sewage outfall in Delray Beach (Florida), have likely contributed to the development of a cyanobacterial bloom on several downcurrent reefs in Florida. Photo Credit: Palm Beach County Reef Rescue | Marine PhotobankScience Daily reports on a recent study which found that Caribbean marine ecosystems are becoming increasingly polluted by sewage-derived nitrogen:

Nitrogen pollution in our coastal ecosystems, the result of widespread use of synthetic agricultural fertilizers and of human sewage, leads to decreased water transparency, the loss of desirable fish species, and the emergence of toxic phytoplankton species — such as the algae behind the infamous “red tides” that kill fish.

The effects are particularly pronounced in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

A study published in the journal Global Change Biology finds that while fertilizer has been the dominant source of nitrogen pollution in Caribbean coastal ecosystems for the past 50 years, such pollution is on the decline, thanks in part to the introduction of more advanced, environmentally responsible agricultural practices during the last decade. But now, sewage-derived nitrogen is increasingly becoming the top source of such pollution in those areas.

Through a chemical analysis of 300 coral samples from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History’s Invertebrate Zoology Collection, Kim and some American University graduate students reconstructed a record of nitrogen inputs into the Caribbean over the last 150 years. Agricultural and sewage pollution create different signatures in organisms like coral.

“We determined that poor stormwater management and wastewater treatment were really to blame over the last decade for nitrogen pollution in the Caribbean,” said Kim. “Our next step is to document this process in action.”

Read more in the original Science Daily article.

See also: Marine and Coastal Issues: Wastewater, Sewage and Sanitation from the Caribbean Environment Programme.

[Photo: via eutrophication&hypoxia]


3 Responses to “Caribbean Sea suffering from sewage pollution” Subscribe

  1. Sandy June 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Thanks for this report. It’s really awful that people are not giving our oceans that much of an importance, considering that 50% of the air we breathe comes from it. Check this video out: http://youtu.be/xyH957EEXWE

  2. sandy August 4, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Too bad that not a lot of people care about our world’s oceans considering that 50% of the air we breathe comes from it. Check this video out. http://youtu.be/57_KdKrJKeM

  3. brittania October 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    i found this very interesting and i am really sorry for them

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