Friday October 18, 2019

Here’s Why Man-made Pesticides Affect Marine Animals More

The study calls for monitoring our waterways to learn more about the impact of pesticides and agricultural run-off on marine mammals.

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Marine animals are more vulnerable to man-made pesticides. Flickr

Marine mammals such as dolphins, manatees, seals and whales, which evolved to make water their primary habitat, lost the ability to make a gene that defends humans and other land-dwelling mammals from the neurotoxic effects of a popular human-made pesticide, a new study has revealed.

The researchers found that the marine mammals lost the gene Paraoxonase 1 (PON1) that effectively defends humans and other terrestrial mammals from organophosphates — a group of man-made insecticides.

PON1 potentially reduces cellular damage caused by unstable oxygen atoms and also protects us from organophosphates that kills by disrupting neurological systems.

Whales and dolphins lost the gene PON1 soon after they split from their common ancestor with hippopotamuses 53 million years ago; manatees lost it after their split from their common ancestor with elephants 64 million years ago.

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Whales and dolphins lost the gene PON1. VOA

But some seals likely lost PON1 function more recently, at most 21 million years ago and possibly in very recent times.

“The big question is, why did they lose function at PON1 in the first place? It’s hard to tell whether it was no longer necessary or whether it was preventing them from adapting to a marine environment,” said lead author Wynn K. Meyer, postdoctoral associate at the University of Pittsburgh in the US.

“We know that ancient marine environments didn’t have organophosphate pesticides, so we think the loss might instead be related to PON1’s role in responding to the extreme oxidative stress generated by long periods of diving and rapid resurfacing,” Meyer added.

For the study, appearing in the journal Science, the team analysed DNA sequences from five species of marine mammals and 53 species of terrestrial mammals and reacted their blood samples with an organophosphate by-product.

 Marine Mammals lost the ability that defends humans and other land-dwelling mammals from the neurotoxic effects of a popular human-made pesticide.
Marine Animals lost the ability that defends humans and other land-dwelling mammals from the neurotoxic effects of a popular human-made pesticide.

The blood did not break down the organophosphate by-product the way it did in land mammals, indicating that unless a different biological mechanism is protecting the marine mammals, they would be susceptible to organophosphate poisoning — a form of poisoning that results from the build-up of chemical signals in the body, especially the brain.

Also Read: European Countries Bans Bee-Killing Pesticides

The study calls for monitoring our waterways to learn more about the impact of pesticides and agricultural run-off on marine mammals.(IANS)

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Giant Floating Boom Designed to Collect Trash from Ocean Finally Working

Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics!

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FILE - A ship tows the Ocean Cleanup Project's first buoyant trash-collecting device toward the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco en route to the Pacific Ocean, Sept. 8, 2018. VOA

After several initial failures, a giant floating boom designed to collect trash from the ocean is finally working.

The Ocean Cleanup Project, created by a 25-year-old Dutch university dropout, has begun collecting items ranging in size from as large as commercial fishing nets to as small as 1 millimeter pieces of plastic from the area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch located halfway between California and Hawaii.

“Our ocean cleanup system is now finally catching plastic, from one-ton ghost nets to tiny microplastics! Also, anyone missing a wheel?” Boyan Slat tweeted.

The 600-meter-long free-floating boom has a tapered 3-meter-deep screen that acts like a coastline to trap the estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that form the patch, while allowing marine life to swim under it.

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The Ocean Cleanup Project, created by a 25-year-old Dutch university dropout, has begun collecting items ranging in size from as large as commercial fishing nets. Pixabay

An underwater parachute anchor was added to the boom after it failed to trap any trash in the sea last year. The anchor slowed down the boom to allow it to passively catch the trash while moving with the currents.

Using sensors and satellites, the boom communicates with scientists to let them know when it is time to send out a boat to pick up the collected trash for recycling.

The environmental nonprofit Ocean Conservancy estimates between 600,000 and 800,000 metric tons of fishing gear is abandoned or lost in the oceans every year. Another 8 million metric tons of plastic trash such as bottles, bags and toys flow annually into the ocean from beaches, rivers and creeks.

Slat said the next move will be to design a bigger, stronger boom that will be able to collect trash for a year or more before a ship is sent out to empty it.

Also Read- Increased Data Entry Workloads Are Pushing USA Doctors Towards Burnout

“There’s a lot of work still ahead of us,” he said. (VOA)