The text on this site is presented as an archival version of the script of "Ocean Planet," a 1995 Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition. The content reflects the state of knowledge at the time of the exhibition, and has not been updated.
Click on these boxes to identify the sources and effects of toxic materials that turn up in polluted coastal waters
Factory waste pipe, Widnes, Cheshire, England, 1991
Industrial, agricultural, household cleaning, gardening, and automotive products regularly end up in water. About 65,000 chemicals are used commercially in the U.S. today, with about 1,000 new ones added each year. Only about 300 have been extensively tested for toxicity §.
photo © David Woodfall/Tony Stone Images
Each year in the United States, we remove 400 million cubic yards
of sediment from channels and harbors--the equivalent of a four-
lane highway, 20 feet (6 m) deep from New York to Los
Illustration © Bonnie Branner
New York's harbor is naturally 18 feet deep, but most ships need at least 45 feet to clear. § Many European superships require a draft of 65 feet. Ship size continues to increase, so dredging is a continuing and growing necessity.
Analyzing sediment samples to classify level of contamination,
Puget Sound, 1990
State sediment-management standards and federal law regulate methods for dredging, disposing, and cleanup of contaminated sediments. §
photo © Puget Sound Water Quality Authority
In the late 1970s, oyster populations were declining in France and the United Kingdom. Almost all the surviving animals did not reproduce and had malformed shells. After regulations reduced the use of TBT, oyster production increased and shell deformation decreased dramatically.
A) Normal oyster, about 8 years old B) Oyster with first 5 years of growth affected by TBT, followed by 3 years after TBT ban; C) Oyster, exposed to high levels of TBT throughout 8 years of life
courtesy of Robert J. Huggett
Ocean Planet Exhibition Floorplan
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