Fish production from sea-cages is a globally significant and expanding industry, but farm production can be constrained due to localised but extreme seabed enrichment, which requires the farm to be rested for extended periods. This study compares the effectiveness of three potential techniques for accelerating seabed recovery in highly enriched sediments. Benthic changes induced by in-situ ‘harrowing’ (heavy raking of the seabed), ‘irrigation’ with oxygenated surface-water, and simulated sediment ‘removal’ are described in relation to passive recovery. Treatment effectiveness was assessed after four months based on physico-chemical and biological analyses of sediments, changes in benthic respiration in mesocosm experiments, and an assessment of the instantaneous water column effects induced during treatment. Results indicated significant sediment plumes associated with reduced dissolved oxygen levels, particularly during ‘removal’, but the magnitude and duration of the changes were negligible in an ecological effects context. Two treatments, ‘harrowing’ (HA) and ‘irrigation’ (IR), had little impact on seabed condition, particularly when compared with the natural recovery that occurred over the study period. Whereas, the ‘removal’ (RE) treatment (exposing the underlying sediment) significantly improved the physico-chemical and biological properties, and appeared to facilitate benthic recolonization. These findings suggest that, removal of degraded surface sediments has the potential to accelerate seabed recovery and can be a useful management strategy where trace metal concentrations (e.g. copper and zinc) have become unacceptably elevated. However, commercial-scale implementation would be contingent upon: i) further evaluation of water column effects associated with larger-scale treatments, and ii) the ability to safely dispose of the sediments.
Economic losses from floods along the Gulf of Mexico have triggered much debate on different strategies to reduce risk and future adverse impacts from storm events. While much of the discussion has focused on structural engineering approaches to flood mitigation, increasing emphasis is being placed on avoidance strategies, such as the protection of undeveloped open spaces. This study leverage previous work to examine undeveloped lands across approximately 2600 watersheds along the Gulf of Mexico.
Different types and spatial configurations of naturally-occurring open spaces are statistically evaluated across landscapes for their effects on reducing observed flood losses (economic damage to building and/or contents) under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) occurring from 2008 through 2014. Statistical models isolate the influence of natural open spaces, while controlling for multiple socioeconomic, environmental, and development-based local conditions. Results estimate the dollar-savings in flood losses by maintaining open spaces over time. This study provides quantitative guidance on which types and spatial characteristics of open spaces are most effective in reducing the adverse impacts from floods. Findings indicate that large, expansive, and continuous patches of naturally-occurring open spaces most effectively reduce losses from flood events.
Coastal lagoons with small catchment basins are highly sensitive to natural processes and anthropogenic activities. To figure out the environmental changes of a coastal lagoon and its contribution to carbon burial, two sediment cores were collected in Xincun Lagoon, southeastern Hainan Island and 210Pb activities, grain size parameters, total organic carbon (TOC), total nitrogen (TN), total inorganic carbon (TIC) and stable carbon isotopes (δ13C) were measured. The results show that in 1770–1815, the decreasing water exchange capacity with outer open water, probably caused by the shifting and narrowing of the tidal inlet, not only diminished the currents and fined the sediments in the lagoon, but also reduced the organic matter of marine sources. From 1815 to 1950, the sedimentary environment of Xincun Lagoon was frequently influenced by storm events. These extreme events resulted in the high fluctuation of sediment grain size and sorting, as well as the great variation in contributions of terrestrial (higher plants, soils) and marine sources (phytoplankton, algae, seagrass). The extremely high content of TIC, compared to TOC before 1950 could be attributed to the large-scale coverage of coral reefs. However, with the boost of seawater aquaculture activities after 1970, the health growth of coral species was severely threatened, and corresponding production and inorganic carbon burial flux reduced. The apparent enhanced inorganic carbon burial rate after 1990 might result from the concomitant carbonate debris produced by seawater aquaculture. This result is important for local government long-term coastal management and environmental planning.
Microplastic fibers make up a large proportion of microplastics found in the environment, especially in urban areas. There is good reason to consider synthetic textiles a major source of microplastic fibers, and it will not diminish since the use of synthetic fabrics, especially polyester, continues to increase. In this study we provide quantitative data regarding the size and mass of microplastic fibers released from synthetic (polyester) textiles during simulated home washing under controlled laboratory conditions. Consideration of fabric structure and washing conditions (use of detergents, temperature, wash duration, and sequential washings) allowed us to study the propensity of fiber shedding in a mechanistic way. Thousands of individual fibers were measured (number, length) from each wash solution to provide a robust data set on which to draw conclusions. Among all the variables tested, the use of detergent appeared to affect the total mass of fibers released the most, yet the detergent composition (liquid or powder) or overdosing of detergent did not significantly influence microplastic release. Despite different release quantities due to the addition of a surfactant (approximately 0.025 and 0.1 mg fibers/g textile washed, without and with detergent, respectively), the overall microplastic fiber length profile remained similar regardless of wash condition or fabric structure, with the vast majority of fibers ranging between 100 and 800 μm in length irrespective of wash cycle number. This indicates that the fiber staple length and/or debris encapsulated inside the fabric from the yarn spinning could be directly responsible for releasing stray fibers. This study serves as a first look toward understanding the physical properties of the textile itself to better understand the mechanisms of fiber shedding in the context of microplastic fiber release into laundry wash water.
Samples of microplastic (n = 924) from two beaches in south west England have been analysed by field-portable-x-ray fluorescence (FP-XRF) spectrometry, configured in a low-density mode and with a small-spot facility, for the heavy metals, Cd and Pb, and the halogen, Br. Primary plastics in the form of pre-production pellets were the principal type of microplastic (>70%) on both beaches, with secondary, irregularly-shaped fragments representing the remainder of samples. Cadmium and Pb were detected in 6.9% and 7.5% of all microplastics, respectively, with concentrations of either metal that exceeded 103 μg g−1 usually encountered in red and yellow pellets or fragments. Respective correlations of Cd and Pb with Se and Cr were attributed to the presence of the coloured, inorganic pigments, cadmium sulphoselenide and lead chromate. Bromine, detected in 10.4% of microplastics and up to concentrations of about 13,000 μg g−1, was mainly encountered in neutrally-coloured pellets. Its strong correlation with Sb, whose oxides are effective fire suppressant synergists, suggests the presence of a variety of brominated flame retardants arising from the recycling of plastics originally used in casings for heat-generating electrical equipment. The maximum bioaccessible concentrations of Cd and Pb, evaluated using a physiological extraction based on the chemical characteristics of the proventriculus-gizzard of the northern fulmar, were about 50 μg g−1 and 8 μg g−1, respectively. These concentrations exceed those estimated for the diet of local seabirds by factors of about 50 and 4, respectively.
Plastics debris, especially microplastics, have been found worldwide in all marine compartments. Much research has been carried out on adsorbed pollutants on plastic pieces and hydrophobic organic compounds (HOC) associated with microplastics. However, only a few studies have focused on plastic additives. These chemicals are incorporated into plastics from which they can leach out as most of them are not chemically bound. As a consequence of plastic accumulation and fragmentation in oceans, plastic additives could represent an increasing ecotoxicological risk for marine organisms. The present work reviewed the main class of plastic additives identified in the literature, their occurrence in the marine environment, as well as their effects on and transfers to marine organisms. This work identified polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), phthalates, nonylphenols (NP), bisphenol A (BPA) and antioxidants as the most common plastic additives found in marine environments. Moreover, transfer of these plastic additives to marine organisms has been demonstrated both in laboratory and field studies. Upcoming research focusing on the toxicity of microplastics should include these plastic additives as potential hazards for marine organisms, and a greater focus on the transport and fate of plastic additives is now required considering that these chemicals may easily leach out from plastics.
Self-organized spatial patterns occur in many terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystems. Theoretical models and observational studies suggest self-organization, the formation of patterns due to ecological interactions, is critical for enhanced ecosystem resilience. However, experimental tests of this cross-ecosystem theory are lacking. In this study, we experimentally test the hypothesis that self-organized pattern formation improves the persistence of mussel beds (Mytilus edulis) on intertidal flats. In natural beds, mussels generate self-organized patterns at two different spatial scales: regularly spaced clusters of mussels at centimeter scale driven by behavioral aggregation and large-scale, regularly spaced bands at meter scale driven by ecological feedback mechanisms. To test for the relative importance of these two spatial scales of self-organization on mussel bed persistence, we conducted field manipulations in which we factorially constructed small-scale and/or large-scale patterns. Our results revealed that both forms of self-organization enhanced the persistence of the constructed mussel beds in comparison to nonorganized beds. Small-scale, behaviorally driven cluster patterns were found to be crucial for persistence, and thus resistance to wave disturbance, whereas large-scale, self-organized patterns facilitated reformation of small-scale patterns if mussels were dislodged. This study provides experimental evidence that self-organization can be paramount to enhancing ecosystem persistence. We conclude that ecosystems with self-organized spatial patterns are likely to benefit greatly from conservation and restoration actions that use the emergent effects of self-organization to increase ecosystem resistance to disturbance.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is not only the prevailing tool used for defining and diagnosing obesity, but it is also a tool that intervenes into fisheries governance, and into fishers’ lives and bodies. All fishers on board vessels over 100 gross tons (GT) must hold a seaman’s licence; too high a BMI may lead to a “loss-of-licence” and the inability to undertake their occupation. From a governmentality perspective, this paper discusses the use of the seaman’s licence and explores how BMI may be an instrument in fisheries governance. We examine how safety policies link to storylines around health and obesity to produce healthy and safe fishers, and how this in turn links to the overall objective of governmentality: to produce productive labourers (fishers). We explore the multiple materialities of the BMI by looking at Norwegian fisheries’ safety policies from a Foucauldian perspective and question the wider implications of a safety policy focused on BMI and obesity.
The impact of crude oil pollution on early life stages (ELS) of fish, including larvae and embryos, has received considerable attention in recent years. Of the organic components present in crude oil, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are considered the main class of compounds responsible for toxic effects in marine organisms. Although evidence suggests that they are more toxic, alkylated PAHs remain much less studied than their unsubstituted congeners. Recently, it was established that embryos of Atlantic haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) are particularly sensitive to dispersed crude oil, and it was hypothesized that this was caused by direct interaction with crude oil droplets, which adhered to the chorion of exposed embryos. Such a phenomenon would increase the potential for uptake of less water-soluble compounds, including alkylated PAHs. In the current study, we compared the uptake of parent and alkylated PAHs in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock embryos exposed to dispersed crude oil at a range of environmentally relevant concentrations (10–600 μg oil/liter seawater). Although the species are biologically very similar, the cod chorion does not become fouled with oil droplets, even when the two species are exposed to dispersions of crude oil droplets under similar conditions. A close correlation between the degree of fouling and toxicological response (heart defects, craniofacial malformation) was observed. Oil droplet fouling in haddock led to both quantitative and qualitative differences in PAH uptake. Finally, kinetic data on a large suite of PAHs showed differential elimination, suggesting differential metabolism of unsubstituted versus alkylated compounds.
Shallow marine ecosystems naturally experience fluctuating physicochemical conditions across spatial and temporal scales. Widespread coral-bleaching events, induced by prolonged heat stress, highlight the importance of how the duration and frequency of thermal stress influence the adaptive physiology of photosymbiotic calcifiers. Large benthic foraminifera harboring algal endosymbionts are major tropical carbonate producers and bioindicators of ecosystem health. Like corals, they are sensitive to thermal stress and bleach at temperatures temporarily occurring in their natural habitat and projected to happen more frequently. However, their thermal tolerance has been studied so far only by chronic exposure, so how they respond under more realistic episodic heat-event scenarios remains unknown. Here, we determined the physiological responses of Amphistegina gibbosa, an abundant western Atlantic foraminifera, to four different treatments––control, single, episodic, and chronic exposure to the same thermal stress (32°C)––in controlled laboratory cultures. Exposure to chronic thermal stress reduced motility and growth, while antioxidant capacity was elevated, and photosymbiont variables (coloration, oxygen-production rates, chlorophyll a concentration) indicated extensive bleaching. In contrast, single- and episodic-stress treatments were associated with higher motility and growth, while photosymbiont variables remained stable. The effects of single and episodic heat events were similar, except for the presumable occurrence of reproduction, which seemed to be suppressed by both episodic and chronic stress. The otherwise different responses between treatments with thermal fluctuations and chronic stress indicate adaptation to thermal peaks, but not to chronic exposure expected to ensue when baseline temperatures are elevated by climate change. This firstly implies that marine habitats with a history of fluctuating thermal stress potentially support resilient physiological mechanisms among photosymbiotic organisms. Secondly, there seem to be temporal constraints related to heat events among coral reef environments and reinforces the importance of temporal fluctuations in stress exposure in global-change studies and projections.