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Some people have calculated it very soon that we were poisoned. Frank and I. Chose a lack of oxygen and he's basically told absolutely so vital necessity of the scene against too much pollution. The voice of Captain Jacques gusto with the warning that man must heed the pollution of the ocean is the topic of this edition of the program series down to the sea. For our program on pollution we talked to Captain Castillo a household name in the area of Oceanography. To Congressman Bob Wilson of San Diego and somewhat of an amateur oceanographer himself and to one of the world's leading authorities on ocean pollution. Dr. Willard J north of the California Institute of Technology's Marine
Science Laboratory. We first asked Dr North to define pollution of the ocean. I think that. Pollution as defined by the state of California as a fair trial notation in that product and it's the state shows that it's unreasonable interference with a beneficial year. I don't people define pollution as. Any alteration whatsoever. Caused by man and. The planet environment. This. Is perhaps a little too restrictive I think. However when a sewage discharge of oil or dust real pollution and factories are squashed into the ocean or that that's not forms of pollution granted but what other types are there. Well. There's a lot gets into the
ocean from the atmosphere. And we put a lot of our waste into the atmosphere that eventually find their way into the ocean a good example of this is the lat we use bad in our. Gasolines in the form of the ingredient. After all they. Are technically known as tetraethyl bad. And there's a molecule of lead and if. And when the gasoline is burned in an internal combustion engine This lad is favorite. Charged the atmosphere from there and carry. I wins out over the ocean. Some of it dissolves into the sea that you find in. The remotest parts of the earth. In the Antarctic after in Greenland in the middle of the Pacific at the greatest that
it's everywhere. But when one drives a car using ethanol what is polluting the ocean. That's right a little better. Dr. North went on to explain how a scientific investigation has provided us with reliable information about the presence of lead in the sea or around us. This was done by Dr Clare Patterson at the California Institute of Technology. He was quite interested in seeing how the average level of lead in the environment. Behaved. As a function of time. And he wanted to know what it was like how concentrated lead was in the environment before man really. Developed technology. As intensively as we have so he has taken water
from. Glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. And analyzed them for their land content. And found very low levels and he was able to date these. Samples so that he knew very accurately at. What time this water became frozen and the glaciers. Doing this. For more recent waters he found that the level of the ad took a rather moderate. Increase. I believe it was just shortly before the birth of Christ and it was at this time that the Romans do go up the technology of smelting lead to. Use in. Construction lad smelling is continued down in Europe down through the
years and. Looking at Paterson's curse the light goes. And continues to rise slowly. But you see a very dramatic increase. Shortly after the invention of the automobile and the use of tetraethyl that. Became common and the amount of light in the environment has just skyrocketed since then. Now what does this mean that we actually notice this particularly well. I'm really thinking about the effects on human beings and the animals and plants that inhabit the earth with us. It's a very hard question to answer with. Many of these universal pollutants because we don't have. What we call a control. And it is we can't find people now who don't have land at high levels in their body.
So that we have no. Population that is lead free with which to compare. A. Common man. You know there's growing concern about the. Massive use of insecticides. Many of the same problems would apply here. Yes we're we're running into some very serious problems and quite interestingly of all of. These. So-called hard pesticides were developed in the western world it turns out that they're being. Used. Very intensively and some of the glass or parts of the world or controlling some of the things like the malaria mosquito and the yellow fever mosquitoes so forth here we use them primarily against I recall Joe Pass. And to some extent we can dispense
with them. The trouble with. The hard past is I just that. They're so toxic that. Nothing can attack them. Right now. Most Wace come from. Civilisation are degraded in one way or another or usually by bacteria. But they hide past the sides don't degrade. And they just accumulate in the environment. We went on to ask about the known effects of pesticides and other pollutants on the wildlife of the sea. For instance the pelican that has been such a common bird along the California coast until recently. We have what are called food chains. Rather simple organisms like planets and plankton. Get eaten by larger animals. Say for instance sardines. And the sardines are in there.
In the course of the food chain by some larger fish and maybe a pelican. Eats the larger fish I have each. Passage along the food chain. That DDT rather pesticide gets concentrated the. Sardine will take the DDT. Out of the. Plankton. And it will go into its fatty tissues and stay there and then. The. Sardine like screen. Most of the plankton actors metabolize them. But it will continue eating plankton and keeping the DDT in its body. DDT never gets excrete it so it just builds up there. So that eventually you find that the concentration of DDT in the in the sardine is much higher than it is in the plankton. Likewise the
larger fish that eats the sardine. Concentrates. The DDT again you find that the level is 5 or 10 times higher and in that predator than it is in a sardine. The bridge tend to be quite high up in these food chains. So that we find extraordinarily high levels in them. The carnivorous burns like pelicans sell for eagles. Get lots of DDT. Appears to interfere with the formation of the shell in the egg. And. So that the birds lay eggs that are. Very thin shells and chances for Michele breaking during the incubation period is very high. Some cases virtually I want 100 percent certainty. For
instance I believe the pelican is the state bird of Louisiana are there any pelicans there. Karl Hobbs of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography has told me that he examined. Power like an ass and found that. The eggs are. Very faint shalwar are breaking. Way down in Baja California. Presumably because of a lack of Agriculture there's very little actual from the land but it's must be moving south and the ocean currents. Well this brings up another question what about the spread for forms of pollution in the ocean itself how far can a pollutant spread. It depends on the polluted sewage. Probably a. Few miles at most. But. Some of the. More
persistent. Things like that. Occur on a worldwide basis they find DDT in the body to lose out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They find a lead in the Arctic waters and we question Dr. north about the reports we had seen concerning bear on the undersea deserts and some of our harbors not just in harbors. Several places along our coast there. Undersea desert once were very light here. This. Results primarily from our. Ignorance of the way of life in this city. In many cases the losses. Could have been prevented. With our present day now right. Pollution is a much used word today and yet the word is no newer than the problem
in the March 969 issue of oceans magazine. There appeared a colorful quote that described the condition of the river water in the city of London some 270 years ago. The publication titled hints to Brewers said in the year 17 0 to Thames Water taken up about Greenwich at low water when it is free from all brackish unus of the sea and has in it all the fact and so leads from this great city of London makes a very strong drink it will of itself or meant wonderfully and afterwards do purgation and three times thinking it will be so strong that several Sea commanders have told me that it has often put their mother the nurse. It seems impossible that man could succeed in polluting the vast world ocean that
covers 70 percent of this planet. We posed this question to Congressman Bob Wilson of San Diego. Well it's been proved that it's possible not just with oil leaks but such things as DDT and other chemicals that come from manufacturing activities close to shore or in the Great Lakes area particularly they call I like your you the Dead Sea now because the fish disappeared because of so much pollution draining it off the industrial areas around that. This is a disgrace it's a national disgrace and many people are particularly legislators nationally are proposing federal controls a more stringent regulation more research and development in the methods of. Controlling pollution and I believe these methods are going to actually save the country and the citizens money rather than costing them money. What immediate steps are being
taken to help in this problem of pollution at sea. Well of course the Department of Interior through the Bureau of Fisheries and through there there are other active ocean related activities are taking second looks on the leasing of oil rights and so forth offshore ensuring certain protective measures which should have been put into effect a long time ago. They are doing many things to to improve it but until we actually get some tough laws on manufacturing waste. Saying that they're not dumped into streams which eventually wind their way into the ocean we're going to end up with tremendous cost in trying to replenish the marine life and to make this dream is in the waters of our nation. From a recreational standpoint
and from a from a health standpoint more as they were a couple hundred years ago. Pollution can take many forms in the sea and cause many different problems. Some like massive oil leaks are easy to see and cause great public concern and rightfully so. But other results of ocean pollution are not so obvious to the layman. Dr. North has conducted a great deal of research into one of the problems caused by excessive sewage outfall the disturbance of the delicate ecology of the ocean floor that has resulted in the destruction of life supporting kelp beds. I. Myself am concerned that if they are getting account restored to. Certain areas in Southern California where it disappeared. Plants. Form the tall. Structures there correspond to trees. And forests of giant
kelp under water just like forests on land there. Very rich in plant life and animal life. And. In fact. Many ecologists who considered him to be. One of the three or four types of communities that form the richest. Centers of life. And found anywhere on the earth. They compare for instance with coral reefs and tropical rainforests. As being. Outstanding examples of. Rich communities. In Southern California. We had. Kelp beds. Very important and significant ones disappear. Starting at about 1935. The kelp beds that used to be out near Los Angeles. The powerhouse for
east coast began to dwindle. And there was not a single plant left. Same thing started about 940 here in San Diego. If you go down and look at one of these kelp beds as the. Plants are growing why you find that there's a small grazing organism in the sea urchin. It occurs naturally in kelp beds. Appears to have. Gotten out of control and is there in millions and millions just armies. Moving slowly along the bottom like locusts on land destroying vegetation sea urchin eats everything in its path. After. The. Plants and animals are gone why there's nothing there to see or juice they reign supreme and prevent anything else from developing near the sewer outfall of
the. Urchins. Stay there. Populations persist and nothing returns. We think that probably there's a nutritional relationship between sewage and sheer chance. Dr. Mary Clark of San Diego State College as a matter of fact about. This the best evidence we have on this. First we thought that the urchins might be picking up the little Swiss. Solid material settles out here so I was but. Dr. quiet showed that the urchins with all their spines and two feet presented an enormous surface to the water and I think an absorbed dissolved organic matter very efficiently. And in fact. And started. Even to read about concentrations that exists around Sioux Falls they can take up enough to
probably make a living or to keep from total starvation because they have the surface area they can make it live there. And prevent other things from coming back. Essentially they live in soup 100 years ago this probably didn't happen. Because we had an animal along our coast and exterminated in the hundreds and that animal was the sea otters. And sea otters eat Syrians. But now we don't have any animal that is very efficient at killing sea urchins. So we've gotten. Into the problem of. The kelp beds disappearing and coming back. Hundred Years ago the current bench probably never disappeared. The first insult was destroying this sea otter the second insult was. Providing with sewage which kept the urchins alive. And now
you know where to restart the count beds. We find we have to man has to step in and fill an ecological role of the sea otter and we go out and kill these. Certain number of these urchins to reduce their. Concentration to the point where kelp can come back and it works. And 1963 we started trying to restore the kelp bed at Point Loma here in San Diego. And. There were only a few hundred plants left. Now there are probably about. 10 million plans. And we. Probably are. Many millions in sea urchins at. That time and gradually been able to bring that back. It's. It's now about two thirds restored and in destroying some of these sea urchins you're not disturbing nature's balance you're restarting it.
That what it amounts to this is every indication that we have points in this direction. He's. Areas dominated by urchins are. Really barren desert except for the urchins they have a few animals here and there but they're. They're really impoverished and after we get the kelp back Kwai swarms of fishes and all kinds of creatures that feed on the caliper and live in the cow come back in. Obviously. Thousands of times more life in the area. And as a result of these activities. You haven't noticed any ill effects so far we haven't. While. There is one fact and that is that times count washes in the tangles betas get tangled in it. That's about the only one that we've. Just how are these kelp beds particularly beneficial to us right there. Well they're beneficial in a number of ways. We.
We fish camp beds very intensively for our fish and lobster abalone. Both commercial and recreational fishing. And then the kelp beds are harvested. The tops are cut off it doesn't. Particularly hurt the plants. And chemicals are extracted from the kelp fact we. Probably all of us eat kelp two or three times a day without realizing it and the. Chemicals are used in the ice cream salad dressings in toothpaste pharmaceuticals. We keep where a little bit of kelp on our bodies because kelp chemicals are used in the manufacture of dyes and textiles. And we paint a was probably a little kelp in the pain.
Millions of tons of waste materials are being dumped into the sea. How much waste can the sea handle. Will we be required to sacrifice the sea floor to take care of our garbage. Captain Jack gusto if we are aware I trace sacrificing completed this he thought our father saw the purpose of being a wastebasket. We don't realize that we are depending on the sea to such an extent that we would not survive such a thing. So it is a duty to preserve the sea for our own preservation. Some people have calculated that very soon. If we were poisoning the plankton life in the sea it would choke by lack of oxygen. And this is basically so it is absolutely a survival necessity to preserve the scene against too much pollution. Now when we say for example that we must preserve the sea does not mean that some
forms of using the sea as you know septic are for waste if it is properly done in a cleaner way. It can be done but. Let's say for example we do not hesitate to dehydrate but a dose. I don't understand why we do where would they stay to D-I going to waste and put it in a package for which would not but you see it would cost a little more but it's a necessity a vital necessity. So it's now we are really witnessing Rice against time. It is a race between the striking officers which is uncontrolled pollution generated by increasing population and increasing investigation on one side and on the other side. Science Marine Sciences progressing and warning and finding ways to protect us. Now which is going to win. I am unable to say at the moment because you see a sharp place. And then of course being in a police state I hope.
That science at least. With time. But it will be in our escape I assure you. What is at stake is the survival of mankind. As long as people who do not understand this then this you would be in danger. With Captain costal doctor north of Cal Tech and Congressman Bob Wilson of San Diego took part in this program about pollution. Another in the series titled down to the sea. Produced by public radio station KQED SFM at San Diego State College. These programs were written and prepared for broadcast by your host Tom McManus with the assistance of Ken Kramer. Music where the series is arranged and performed by Sam Hinton and a special poetic and narrative passages are read by Cliff Kirk production of down to the sea was made possible in part by a grant from the Corporation for
Public Broadcasting. This is the national educational radio network.
Down to the sea
Episode Number
Mineral Wealth of the Sea
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Down to the sea; 6; Mineral Wealth of the Sea,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2023,
MLA: “Down to the sea; 6; Mineral Wealth of the Sea.” 1971-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <>.
APA: Down to the sea; 6; Mineral Wealth of the Sea. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from