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ocean

Boom in ‘armored’ plankton puzzles scientists

1989 Exxon Valdez runs aground in Prince William Sound spilling 10.8 million gallons of oil.

Animals killed include 250,000 sea birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, 22 orcas and millions of salmon and herring.

In 1994 Exxon is fined $5 billion in civil court as punitive damages. Punitive damages overturned on appeal in 2007. For the quarter ending September 30, 2007 Exxon posted a profit of $9.4 billion.

JP Morgan invents credit-default swaps to give Exxon credit line for Valdez liability.

1994 Scientists estimate that between 1800 and 1994 118 billion metric tons of carbon has caused naturally alkaline oceans to become more acidic.

"In the oceans pH is a relatively constant property, and it has not changed over time scales of hundreds of thousands of years. The pH changes that are occurring in the oceans today are truly extraordinary." - Joan Kleypas, scientist National Center for Atmospheric Research

"There is growing consensus within the scientific community that increasing carbon dioxide levels will lead to acidification in the ocean, inhibiting the ability of small animals such as coral, mollusks and some forms of plankton to form their shells. These creatures are at the bottom of the oceanic food chain. If they disappear, the oceanic food chain collapses." - James Friedson

1999 Oil tanker, New Carissa owned by Green Atlas Shipping and operated by TMM Co. Ltd runs aground off the Oregon coast. At the time of the grounding the vessel was empty of cargo, but contained 359,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil in six tanks and 37,400 gallons of diesel oil in one tank. 200,000 gallons of oil, roughly half, were consumed in the fire lite for that purpose. 130,000 gallons of oil remained in the bow section after the burn was sunk in over 10,000 feet of water 282 miles west of Waldport.

2001 A fishing vessel sinks in Prince William Sound, Alaska releasing 35,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the sound. Cleanup efforts tapered off after recovering 11,000 gallons.

2003 Huge "dead zone" of water so devoid of oxygen that sea life could not live in it spreads at the mouth of the Mississippi River. It is estimated to be between 4,770 and 6,900 square miles.

Oil from the sunken tanker Prestige, which sank on November 19, 2002 off the Spanish coast, is still leaking about 80 tons of oil each day. About 53,000 tons of oil remain in the ship.

Los Angeles admits liability for over 3,670 sewage spills over the past decade.
2004 An annual occurrence caused by chemical fertilizer run-off in the Mississippi basin leaves a dead zone of waters across 5,800 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico. The dead zone extendes from the mouth of the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana 250 miles west to near the Texas border and is closer to shore than usual because of winds and currents.

Connecticut shipping company, the OMI Corp. is fined $4.2 million after pleading guilty to dumping thousands of gallons of waste oil and sludge into the sea.

ConocoPhillips will pay $485,000 in fines for Clean Water Act violations arising from a natural gas platform in Alaska's Cook Inlet. 470 violations occurring between 1999 and 2004, mostly consisting of the dumping of raw sewage into the inlet.

2005 Ocean fisheries have dropped to 10 percent of their 1950 levels.

'Red' tide of plankton causes unprecedented closure of shell fish fisheries along the coast of New England.

A shell disease that had struck over 30% of New England lobsters. Researchers believe that higher ocean temperatures have caused nearly a third of New England lobsters to be inedible.

It is revealed that the American military used the ocean, up until 1970, as a dump for toxic waste. The army, alone, admitted dumping 64 million pounds of nerve agents and mustard gas, 400,000 chemical filled bombs, and 500 tons of radioactive toxic waste off the East, Gulf and West coasts of America as well as around Hawaii and off the coast of Alaska.

The nerve agents, radioactive toxic waste and other toxic chemical agents could pose a hazard for generations. The impact of the chemical dumping has never been studied. Few scientists knew it was done, so studies of the decline in sea life have never focused on the possibility of leaking chemical weapons.

2006 150 "dead zones" have been identified in the oceans, 90% of the large fish species have disappeared from the oceans in the last 50 years, 97% of the elkhorn and staghorn coral off the coast of Florida has disappeared since 1975, 75% of the kelp forests off the Southern California coast have vansihed in the last 50 years and 650 gray whales have washed up dead or dying along the West Coast in the past seven years.

Tropical fish are sighted of the coast of New England.

The State of California spends $33 million to offset private costs associated with the dismal salmon fishing season. Catches are one tenth of past average catches.

2007 Dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi River is estimated has expanded to 8500 square miles.

British Petroleum agrees to pay $20 million in fines for pipeline leaks and spills into Alaska Prudhoe Bay.

Lack of predators in the ocean makes a lasting impact on Northern Ireland's only salmon farm. A swarm of jelly fish 35 feet deep attacks salmon penned in nets off the Glens of Antrium killing the entire farmed population worth $2 million. The jelly fish, Pelagia nocticula, is best known for terrorizing bathers in the Mediterranean Sea.

"It was unprecedented, absolutely amazing. The sea was red with jelly fish, and there was nothing we could do about it, absolutely nothing." - John Russell, fish farm managing director

Canadian researchers efforts to revive wild salmon populations that were exposed to sea lice infestations of farmed salmon appear to be failing. Even though the wild fishery has been closed exposed wild salmon populations are depressed and declining quickly due to sea lice infestations.
2008 405 dead zones, caused by chemical fertilizers, are identified. The size of dead zones have roughly doubled every decade since 1960.

ExxonMobil fined $2.64 million for improperly handling and disposing of polychlorinated biphenyls ("PCBs") on an offshore oil and gas platform in the Santa Barbara Channel.

A 337 page federal fisheries report shows overwhelming evidence that the pesticides malathion, diazinon and chloripyrifos interfere with the ability of wild salmon to find food, reproduce and swim. The continued unfettered use of malathion, diazinon and chloripyrifos by farmers "jeopardized the continued existence" of wild salmon off the Pacific coast of California, Oregon and Washington.

"Measurements of ocean acidification in the US Pacific Northwest show acidity is rising more than ten times faster than climate models have predicted." - Jessica Marshall 11/25/08

"Declines in seawater pH were expected to happen very slowly, so we've been lax in dealing with the problem, but our study shows ocean acidification may be happening much quicker." - Timothy Wootton 11/25/08


black lagoon oil spill

Hurricane Katrina was expected.

2005 Issue of National Geographic magazine it is noted that sea temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean have risen by one to two degrees Fahrenheit since 1994. Since 1995 the Atlantic has been producing hurricanes at a pace double that of previous quarter century. The rise of sea temperatures in the Atlantic is directly responsible for the severity and frequency of hurricanes. Lower temperatures cause less severe and frequent hurricanes while higher temperatures create more severe and frequent hurricanes. In the analysis presented it was predicted that frequent severe hurricanes in the near future could cause much more damage to the region than hurricanes in the past.

The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal (MRGO), a 76 mile channel that provides a shorter route between the Gulf of Mexico and New Orleans's inner harbor, was designed for deep-draft vessels that cannot fit through canal locks of the global industrial canals. The MRGO, now called the "hurricane highway," was directly responsible for the storm surge that breached the levies of New Orleans. Responsibility for the damage done to New Orleans rests in the laps of the US Army Corps of Engineers and the shipping concerns that used the MRGO channel.
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