“We documented for first time marked changes in the pelagic food web length in response to various natural and anthropogenic related stressors,” said lead author Rocio I. Ruiz-Cooley, formerly of NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center and now at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. “This tells us that the food web is very dynamic, and reveals changes with the ecosystem around it.”
The amphipods were contaminated with PCBs — polychlorinated biphenyls — toxic chemicals used for decades in industry, as well as other industrial pollutants known as persistent organic pollutants.
“Every sample we had,” Jamieson says, “had contaminants in it at very high or extraordinarily high levels.”
A slogan of the last century was ‘think globally, act locally.’ But if we’re to deal with the collapse of living systems today we have to think and act locally, regionally and globally simultaneously. That would probably not be possible without the communications tools we now have on our laptops and other devices.
In the vast and chaotic climate systems that govern our atmosphere and oceans, making sense of how one change — diminished sea ice — affects places or people thousands of miles away is a task of such extraordinary complexity that it strains even the most sophisticated supercomputers.
What’s more concerning is that plastic has been found to act like a sort of sponge, concentrating toxic chemicals that are diluted in oceans and lakes. Such toxins include heavy metals and chemicals that have long been banned, such as DDT or PCBs, that can have severe environmental effects and are known to cause cancer and birth defects.