Science Diary: Healthy Ocean- Harmful Habitat?

Ambience: Ocean Waves

Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. We join ocean conservationist Carl Safina on board a research ship anchored off the coast of Central America. While researchers are collecting samples of both fish and squid, marine ecologist Bob Pitman tells Carl about the unexpected habitats that are found floating in the water.

Bob Pitman: “You can always tell when you’re anywhere near the coast. There’s woody debris coming in off the coast here. There’s lots of human debris here, too. We got plastic bits and milled wood going by here, and it’s all habitat for small fishes. Most of the stuff that goes by here, if we dip it up, there’ll be three or four species of fish that hang out on this. It’s protection that they get from predators. So, this is a place where some debris in the ocean actually plays a part in the local ecology in maybe a positive way.”

Carl Safina: “Well, I think that there are actually a whole bunch of animals in the ocean that really depend on driftwood coming out of rivers part of their lifecycle and cover and protection.”

Bob Pitman: “Some of the more durable plastic trash that ends up in the ocean, probably travels around for years. And I don’t know, it’s probably gotten to be an important habitat for a number of organisms out here.”

Carl Safina: “As well as trouble for other organisms.”

Every year, many turtles, birds, and other marine life are killed or maimed by this floating plastic debris.

Bob Pitman: “Oh yeah. We have trouble with turtles getting tangled up in debris out here, and we have to, on a regular basis, we have to pull them out of the water.”

What is an unlikely ocean refuge for some organisms can be lethal to many others. Check out Carl Safina’s blog on pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Science Diary: Healthy Ocean- Harmful Habitat?

What shelters some ocean creatures can be deadly to others.
Air Date:04/23/2007
Scientist:
Transcript:

Ambience: Ocean Waves

Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. We join ocean conservationist Carl Safina on board a research ship anchored off the coast of Central America. While researchers are collecting samples of both fish and squid, marine ecologist Bob Pitman tells Carl about the unexpected habitats that are found floating in the water.

Bob Pitman: "You can always tell when you're anywhere near the coast. There's woody debris coming in off the coast here. There's lots of human debris here, too. We got plastic bits and milled wood going by here, and it's all habitat for small fishes. Most of the stuff that goes by here, if we dip it up, there'll be three or four species of fish that hang out on this. It's protection that they get from predators. So, this is a place where some debris in the ocean actually plays a part in the local ecology in maybe a positive way."

Carl Safina: "Well, I think that there are actually a whole bunch of animals in the ocean that really depend on driftwood coming out of rivers part of their lifecycle and cover and protection."

Bob Pitman: "Some of the more durable plastic trash that ends up in the ocean, probably travels around for years. And I don't know, it's probably gotten to be an important habitat for a number of organisms out here."

Carl Safina: "As well as trouble for other organisms."

Every year, many turtles, birds, and other marine life are killed or maimed by this floating plastic debris.

Bob Pitman: "Oh yeah. We have trouble with turtles getting tangled up in debris out here, and we have to, on a regular basis, we have to pull them out of the water."

What is an unlikely ocean refuge for some organisms can be lethal to many others. Check out Carl Safina's blog on pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.