Mercury is a tasteless, colorless metal that can get into our bodies through eating different kinds of seafood.
Mercury vapors and emissions are also emitted by mining, burning fossil fuels, sewage treatment and industrial waste. As a result, they have turned into one of the most deadly environmental pollutants in the world. In fact, mercury gets into the ocean through fish meals, plankton, and other sea creatures and is carried by currents to many remote corners of the planet.
The rising tide of mercury in our bodies results to what scientists terms as “Mercury Cycling”. Mercury emissions may go unnoticed until one day you go swimming and suddenly realize your chest is filled with a funny-colored fluid. If you think it’s the end of it, think again! Because the mercury you’re experiencing right now could also be flowing with you right deep inside the sea.
The latest mercury spill revealed how mercury gets into the sea, and also opened up issues regarding human activities that put mercury into the air and into the ocean. One particular instance was when Chinese fishing vessels were found to be dumping a large amount of mercury-tainted coastal sand into the global water. Other coastal regions also suffer from similar culprits, such as those in the United States. In these places, huge amounts of mercury from human activities have been polluting seas for decades. These latest spills, however, seem to be beyond the pale of what human beings have dealt with so far.
There have been several theories on how mercury gets into the sea. One theory is that the fish and other seafood get infected by the mercury and filter them out of the system. Another theory explains that mercury gets into the near-surface water through dead organic material or through the decomposition of organic materials. Another idea is that the animals, which are eaten by humans, transport the mercury to the near-surface water through their excrement. The crustaceans, called shrimp-like crustaceans called amphipods, collected in the Asian and North American oceans were found to be a good source of mercury.
Researchers have also found out that mercury can be transferred via bacterial or infections to other creatures. It seems that this transfer is a common occurrence, especially in deep-sea trenches. For this reason, researchers have developed tests that would be able to detect any kind of abnormalities in any kind of organisms. One test that has been developed utilizes an isotopic composition test. Isotopes are atoms of a specific element with identical atomic mass that differs from an assigned one.
Through an isotopic composition test, the tester can tell whether or not mercury is present in any given area. If there is a high concentration of mercury, then the results will show that the sample shows the presence of mercury in the soil, in rocks, in seaweed, or in clay’s. However, if there is a very low concentration, then the sample will not prove to contain any mercury. In order for these tests to be conclusive, more than one site must be analyzed.
One example of how mercury gets into the sea can be found in a picture called the Blue Marlin. This is a species of blue mussel, which can grow up to 2 meters. This kind of fish reproduces during the spring, where it releases enormous amounts of sterile reproductive cells which drift around in the open sea until eventually they are deposited on a beach somewhere. This photograph was taken off the California coast back in 1992 and showed what a massive quantity of dead kermadec trenches were actually composed of.
The most common way that mercury gets into the marine environment is through the consumption of harmful plastics. It seems that the global warming scare has inspired some people to start caring more about the state of our environment.
Provided by Antonio Westley
Disclaimer: This article is meant to be seen as an overview of this subject and not a reflection of viewpoints or opinions as nothing is definitive. So, make sure to do your research and feel free to use this information at your own discretion.