Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another Species Tainted By Us

AGADIR, Morocco – American scientists who shot nearly 1,000 sperm whales with tissue-sampling darts discovered stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals in the animals that they say could affect the health of both ocean life and the millions who eat seafood.

A report Thursday noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in the mammals, according to samples taken over five years during a research expedition that traveled 87,000 miles (140,000 kilometers).

Analysis of cells from the sperm whales showed that pollution is reaching the farthest corners of the oceans, from deep in the polar region to "the middle of nowhere" in the equatorial regions, said biologist Roger Payne, founder and president of Ocean Alliance that conducted the research.

"The entire ocean life is just loaded with a series of contaminants, most of which have been released by human beings," Payne said in an interview on the sidelines of the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting.

"These contaminants, I think, are threatening the human food supply. They certainly are threatening the whales and the other animals that live in the ocean," he said.

Ultimately, he said, they could contaminate fish, which are a primary source of animal protein for 1 billion people.

"You could make a fairly tight argument to say that it is the single greatest health threat that has ever faced the human species. I suspect this will shorten lives, if it turns out that this is what's going on," he said.

U.S. Whaling Commissioner Monica Medina informed the 88 member nations of the whaling commission of the report and urged the commission to conduct further research.

"This provides new and very important information about the hazards and the problem of these sorts of contaminants in the ocean, both for the whales and their habitat," Medina told the audience of hundreds of government officials, marine scientists and environmentalists.

The report "is right on target" for raising issues critical to humans as well as whales, Medina told The Associated Press. "We need to know much more about these problems."

Payne, 75, is best known for his 1968 discovery and recordings of songs by humpback whales, and for finding that some whale species can communicate with each other over thousands of miles.

Payne called it the most comprehensive report ever done on ocean pollutants. "We knew that something is out there, but nobody's gone out and looked. We finally did," he said of the $5 million project.

The 93-foot (28-meter) sail-and-motor ketch "Odyssey" set out in March 2000 from San Diego, California, to document the oceans' health by taking tissue samples from the free-ranging sperm whale, which venture from the poles to the tropics. Like humans, they stand at the top of the marine food chain.

By August 2005 it had collected pencil-eraser sized samples from 955 whales using a low-impact dart gun.

The samples were sent for analysis to marine toxicologist John Wise at the University of Southern Maine. DNA was compared to ensure the animals were not tested more than once. The most startling results of the voyage, the findings on chromium, were published last year in the scientific journal Chemosphere.

The original objective of the voyage was to measure chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants, and the study of metals was an afterthought.

The researchers were stunned with the results. "That's where the shocking, sort of draw-dropping concentrations exist," Payne said.

Though it was impossible to know where the whales had been, Payne said the contamination was embedded in the blubber of males formed in the frigid polar regions, indicating that the animals had ingested the metals far from where they were emitted.

"When you're working with a synthetic chemical which never existed in nature before and you find it in a whale which came from the arctic or Antarctic, it tells you that was made by people and it got into the whale," he said.

How that happened is unclear, but the contaminants likely were carried by wind or ocean currents, or were eaten by smaller ocean creatures. Whales feed on all kinds of fish, even sharks.

"The biggest surprise was chromium," Payne said. "That's an absolute shocker. Nobody was even looking for it."

Chromium, a corrosion-resistant material, is used in stainless steel, paints, dyes and the tanning of leather which can cause lung cancer in people who work in industries where it is commonly used.

It was impossible to say from the samples whether any of the whales suffered diseases. But Wise applied chromium to healthy whale cells in the laboratory to study the effect. He found that the concentration of chromium found in whales was several times higher than the level required to kill healthy cells in a Petri dish, Payne said.

The report said that mercury, ranging from one part per million to 16 ppm, were found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. "All mercury levels are higher than the maximum U.S. figure" considered safe, Payne said.

Another surprise was the high concentration of aluminum, used in packaging, cooking pots and water treatment, although its effects are unknown.

Payne said whales absorb the contaminants and passed them on to the next generation when a female nurses her calf. "What she's actually doing is dumping her lifetime accumulation of that fat-soluble stuff into her baby," he said, and each generation passes on more to the next.

The consequences could be horrific for both whale and man, he said.

"I don't see any future for whale species except extinction. This not on anybody's radar, no government's radar anywhere, and I think it should be."


Morocco Bama said...

It's all coming to a head. The Gulf Oil Spill should figure nicely into this.

Juxtapose this woman with Sarah Palin:

Morocco Bama said...

We need IC to post and tell us everything's going to be okay. Those were the days!!

This will do.

Dejavu said...

we just have to safe the whales and all animals that are protected by law, period

ericswan said...

Who would a thunk it. The Shrub misses his old nemesis the cuttlefish. hehehe.

I suppose you could sum up by saying you were right you were right all along. IC passed away and the corporate conflagration slouches to Bethlehem to be reborn.

Morocco Bama said...

Check out this bizarre commercial by BP. I don't have words for you?

Eric, IC wasn't my nemesis. I would call bullshit on him because he would often claim that all we needed to do was join hands and sing Kumbaya and we could overcome the death grip of the Masters of The Universe. Has he really passed on, or are you just assuming? If he has, I'm sorry to hear that. I held no malice towards him....I actually liked him.....Shrub just has a hard time showing "like."

I wouldn't say I was right. I guessed based on the trajectory and the odds of the trajectory altering substantially. There's no consolation on that guess being close....but who knows, maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe our alien progenitors will arrive just in time to end this madness and bring the perpetrators, and their technocratic collaborators and all those who believed the lie, to justice. Then we really would have a world of about 500 million, or less.......and a much better world, at that.

ericswan said...

Good question shrub. I don't have proof but he has dropped off the net including his email account.

ericswan said...

click the invisible title for more or less.

Bigfoot said...

Richard, I read somewhere recently that bees are dancing out of tune due to the effect of pesticides in the environment. Bees have a dance that they do to inform their little brothers where the good food is at. Are there any species left not tainted by man?

Morocco, I digested every newsletter that Dave McGowan wrote in regards to peak oil, Ruppert, and his team from the wilderness. Ruppert's emails and Dave's commentary were just hilarious.
Whether oil is abiotic or an actual peaking out finite resource, or even something else or in between, Michael Ruppert's response was that of an arrogant, delusional, tack spitting egocentric cock hole. What a dodgy fucker. His performance sure does raise an awful lot of questions doesn't it?

McGowan wrote:

"All of the figures thrown around in the debate over 'Peak Oil' come from the petroleum industry. And all of those figures are based on the notion of oil as a static resource. Why is that? How do those figures have any credibility? How, for that matter, does the oil industry itself have any credibility? Aren't these the same folks, after all, who have worked hand-in-hand with the CIA for decades to destabilize foreign governments, commit egregious human rights violations, and brutally rape the environment? Or is that a different oil industry?"

How many cheap, clean, efficient inventions and technologies from around the world have these shit-heads bought or stolen, then buried I wonder?

just_another_dick said...

I apologize Shrub, I made it 1/2 way through your first video when our power went out. A chunk of double shifts forced me to postpone finishing it till today, when I find that the video has been pulled.

The BP ad bounces quite nicely between creepy & inane.
So much of it is a razor that can cut both ways, don't you think?
For example, "beyond power" is subjugation "beyond disease" is death.
I found that BP's choice of an empty toilet paper roll as an illustration of fear to be either completely ludicrous or a betrayal of the uber-elite's distaste when faced with natural processes.
And the "beyond pain" breast implant should have had a pair of male hands giving the new robo-boobies a nice healthy fondle if they really wanted to illustrate joy.
I suppose the message here is that the bright shiny future that awaits us will have only been made possible by BP slaughtering the ocean.
I can't wait.

My wife pointed out that the whole thing sounded like it was modeled on the Cowardly Lion's speech from the Wizard of Oz.
It appears here:

at about 2:08.

Dejavu, don't hold yer breath waiting.

Eric, I miss IC too. I'm just not completely sure his appearance wasn't a bit deceptive.

BF, I used to dismiss McGowan. Then I read William Engdahl's "A Century Of War" which lays out in fairly excruciating detail how the 7 Sisters of Big Oil have callously manipulated everything from wars to financial implosions for their own benefit.
McGowan's theories then made perfect sense.

The bees aren't the only species dancing out of tune due to synthetic chemicals. I think what used to be dismissed as anecdotal evidence for their harmful effects has grown into an ocean (sorry) of proof that petrochemicals are killing us.

But that was probably the plan.
I read a recent article that demonstrated how the rampant Wall Street speculation in food prices during '08 & '09 literally murdered oodles & oodles of people by artificially driving up food prices.

I find it hard to believe that this behavior is not intentional. These people are quite aware of the consequences of their actions, they just don't give a shit.

ericswan said...

I don't know why anyone would hang around here but the second shoe falls and the pincers form up when California gets the call.