For many reasons the human race could be called a blessing. Great
advanced in technology, medicine and even the fact we are the most sophisticated
species on the planet. Are we a gift to planet Earth, or far from it? With cast
amounts of pollution and destruction of the planet, not to mention unthinkable
acts of violence and hate that has been going on since the beginning of time.

Are we really as sophisticated and important as we have led ourselves to
believe? Are we any better than any other creature because we are more
technologically advanced? Is the human race a blessing? Humans have destroyed
and endangered more species on our planet than any other species or group, with
our continuous pollution and lack of respect for out own environment. One area
of the world affected by our careless habits is our coastlines and the marine
habitats that vast amounts of species rely on. These particular areas of the
world are being destroyed because humans dont seem to care as long as they
make a couple of dollars in the process. Oil spills like the one in the Prince
William Sound on the coast of Alaska and Hawaiian sea turtles and their many
troubles with humans are just some examples of human carelessness and the
consequences that the environment, particularly marine wildlife incur, which
often are fatal. I chose this particular subject because I find the ocean and
its unique and rare inhabitants to be interesting. Every coastline has its
one unique species and no two areas are the same. I wanted to learn more about
how humans are destroying the habitats of these unique creatures. I found that
all species are in someway being threatened by human dominance and carelessness.

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From the common flounder or sea star you can find when you walk across the beach
to a rare fish like the coelacanth (prehistoric fish that was believed to be
extinct until one was caught off the coat of Madagascar by a local commercial
fisherman until in the 1950s). The ocean can be a calm and loving but can
easily turn into a vicious killer within seconds. All of these things are what I
find so interesting about the ocean. I wanted to find out why people can
continue to destroy it even though they know the effect of their actions. I
guess some people are ignorant and just dont care if they destroy the things
that make our environment so beautiful. One example of our careless destruction
of our environment is the Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska in
1989. The Prince William Sound still shows signs of the oil spill tem years
later. Most species have recovered since the spill, but many are still
suffering. The Harbor Seal and herring are just two who are vital to the
survival of all the species in the area. Herring are the main source of food for
many species in the area, including humans. (Mitchell, p.98) “The ecosystem is
gradually recovering from the spill,” says Molly McCammon, an Executive
director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, “but it will never be
the same as it was twenty years ago.” The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee
Council was founded to oversee the use of nine hundred million dollars to the
area by the government after settling with the Exxon Company for one billion
dollars in criminal and civil damages. One serious problem in the aftermath of
Exxon Valdez is the decline of herring. (The table shows the chave in
populations of Prince William Sound before and after the Exxon Valdez spill.)
Even more disturbing than the fact herring arent recovering as well as other
species like them is the fact they were on the decline before the accident. This
was a major issue because herring are the center of the ecosystem in the Sound.

Many biologists now believe that over fishing of the herring has contributed to
their decline. The Pacific Herring is just one species of the area, but if you
see how important that one species is to the ecosystem of the Alaskan coast than
you begin to see how important all species are to their particular habitats.

This is just one example, but if you take a species out of its environment, then
a chain reaction would occur, hurting the species around it. Another species
that biologists are beginning to study wit the money received from the Exxon
Valdez settlement is the Alaskan Salmon. The oil spill has left the Alaskan
Salmon on the decline until recently, but still the species is reeling. “The
last two years have been extremely positive for the Alaskan Salmon
population,” stated one Alaskan biologists. But her concerns were more focused
on the salmon offspring, which had been effected by the spill. Fry, as seen in
the left vial, were damaged by the oil. The fry still come in contact with oil
when oil pockets seep into some intertidal spawning streams. “These pockets
are like mines,” says Jeffrey Short, a scientist with the National Marine
Fisheries Service. Scientist discovered the oil caused genetic defects in
salmon. Many species in the Prince William Sound are still recovering from the
spill. This is just one spill and you can see the devastation it has made upon
its ecosystem. This has been called one of the worst oil spills in history. But
you can imagine there has been numerous spills that are almost as areas might
never fully recover from the spill on their ecosystem. The devastation of an oil
spill is just one of many causes of marine destruction that humans are guilty
of. Many other species suffer from damaged habitats. Another example of humans
destroying their environment and the unique species that live there is Hawaiian
Sea turtles. The turtles are becoming endangered because of loss of habitat. The
overwhelming presence of humans in the turtles habitat is making is harder
for turtles to find areas where they can lay their eggs. The loss of nesting
sites if hurting the reproduction of sea turtles because unpopulated beaches are
becoming harder to find. Sea turtles have an affinity for certain beaches and
when they cannot lay their eggs there they have to find new areas which can take
time. Other reasons why the turtles are being threatened are pollution of the
ocean and netting. Pollution in the form of debris is killing turtles. They can
ingest the plastic debris and it makes it hard to get the nourishment needed
from the food they eat. Netting is another killer of turtles. Fishing nets set
out by commercial fisherman are a definite killer of sea turtles in the Hawaiian
Islands. (http://www.turtles.org/marines). Erosion of beaches also hurts the sea
turtle population. The lack of beach force turtles to lay their eggs in a
smaller area. When humans try to stop or reduce erosion it disturbs the turtles
even more. Sea walls, canals, jetties, and sandbagging are all things that are
used by humans to stop erosion, but they are hurting the turtles more than they
are helping them. They need dry land in order to lay their eggs and these
structures are deducing land even further. Fibropapilloma Tumors are a serious
threat and are beginning to show up on turtles in Hawaii and other areas with
large numbers of sea turtles. They were first seen in turtles around 1930, but
it wasnt until 1980 that the tumors began to show up in epidemic proportions.

The green turtles were the only known species to have the tumors, but it has
recently been discovered in other turtle species. The most effected areas of the
world are Hawaii, Florida, and Australia. (http://www.turtles.org/threats.htm)
All of these threats to turtle population are hurting their hopes of survival.

But people out to help the sea turtles such as Denise Parker who works with a
marine turtle program in Honolulu, Hawaii, have worked hard and the population
of marine sea turtles has actually been on the rise in recent years. The
turtles population is coming up from endangered and threatened to a safe
number, but that isnt far enough for many who care about the turtles. They
continue to help increase the population because they know they would begin to
decline again if they didnt have any help. Many groups such as the Marine
Turtles Research Program and the National Marine Fisheries Service are helping
to restore the turtles in Hawaii. There are also many individuals whose work
with the sea turtles have helped in preserving them and their natural
environment. One of these people is Ken Nichols. Nichols is a supporter of
turtles and he is trying to make the people aware of the environment in the
Hawaiian Islands. He feels that the most important thing we can do is conserve
the wilderness and beaches from expansion. We need to educate people about the
turtles especially children. When asked about how we can save the environment
and the habitat of turtles as well as other species Nichols said, “This is
obviously a difficult task as the human population continues to grow, which
means we are constantly expanding into wild areas which support bio-diversity of
all types. I believe the greatest task is education of children and more
efficient use of the existing areas we are using.” These two ideas, are good
examples of how the human race destroys the environment around them. We continue
to hurt our wildlife, but there are people out there to fight against the
pollution and destruction caused by large corporations and businesses. The
Endangered Species Act of 1973 has helped tremendously in the battle for
survival of species like the turtles in Hawaii as well as other threatened and
endangered species of out planet. (http://www.fws.gov/r9end.com). This act
prohibits the further destruction or death of the species. By the Endangered
Species Act, citizens of the United States are prohibited from taking an
endangered or threatened species, declared by the U.S. Fish and Wilidlife
Service, from its environment whether on United States soil or in its waters.

Punishment if caught breaking the lwas instead in this act are as follows;
25,000 dollars if caught violating the rules listed above, 12,000 forknowingly
participating in the importing or exporting of such species. Any person who
otherwise violates any provision of this Act, or any regulation, permit, or
certificate issued hereunder, may be assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary
of not more than $500 for each such violation. (http://endangered.fws.gov/esa.html)
Although this act is a great step towards the restoration of threatened and
endangered species many feel the act isnt worth the money. A proposed
amendment to the Endangered Species Act threatened many aspects of the project.

The proposed “amendment” was an attempt to undermine the project of funding
and political support. The amendment to section 403 of the Endangered Species
Act would literally wipe out many of the endangered species protected by this
bill. “The sea turtles of Hawaii wouldnt stand a chance if the amendment
would have passed,” said supporters of the Endangered Species Act and
endangered species around the world, “We cant just let them take back what
we have worked so hard for.” Shrimp nets alone kill 55,000 turtles a year in
the Hawaiian Islands. (http://www.turtles.org/threats). If the Endangered
Species Act is undermined where will these endangered species turn? Some
senators who support the amendments to undermine the act are back in congress
for a second term and many feel the amendments to the Endangered Species Act
will be brought up again and re-voted. (http://www,turtles.org/threats). Senator
Slade Gorton was one supporter of the bill to undermine the Endangered Species
Act. Are these accusations of inhumanity and lack of care for nature completely
true about Senator Gorton? On Senator Gortons web site (http://senate.gov/gorton),
he shows his compassion for nature. A letter thanking him for his help on saving
trees and several streams in his home state of Washington from the Sierra club
was one such article bringing up questions of whether he was so bad. Others seem
to think otherwise, but it is hard to tell without actually knowing him or all
his work. Many other laws and acts have been implemented to stop the decline in
population of many endangered and threatened species. One it the Marine Mammal
Act, which protects the many species in our oceans. The Clean Water and Clean
Air acts were also adopted to help protect these endangered species from human
threats. One example of how humans have hurt many different species of animals
is pesticides, especially the pesticide DDT, which was used in World War II to
keep insects away from soldiers. After the war, the pesticide was brought back
to the United States and used very carelessly. DDT seeped into the streams and
contaminated almost every species that ate fish or other animals that had been
infected with DDT. From the contaminated fish the pesticide went up the food
chain and began killing off the bald eagles. After the substance DDT was
nationally banned in 1973 the bald eagle has begun to make a comeback like most
of the other species affected by our carelessness. (Discovery, “The Bald
Eagle”). Just because the Bald Eagle is the symbol of our country does that
mean we have more of an obligation to protect it than the sea turtles? Hopefully
we will be able to stop the amendments one more time, but if they are made what
will happen to the animals that depend on it? We have the obligations to protect
these animals. We have placed them in this situation and it is our fault many of
these species are endangered today. We cannot continue to let them slip away if
we can do something about it. Many organizations are trying to keep these laws
in place. Others who feel that our money should go to more worthy causes, even
though we personally are responsible for the decline in many species. I think we
need to support the laws that are in effect as of right now and try to get
better funding for the organizations that are already in place. We dont need
new laws, we need to support and help fund the ones we already have. The U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service is one of the big organizations that helps protect the
endangered species as well as helping to educate and fund other small
organizations that can do their part as well. It may not be easy to get funding
for programs like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but we can achieve this
goal if we work hard. A good example of how we can help to preserve our
endangered wildlife is we can implement a tax that will provide money to these
programs. We can add a tax to companies who contribute to the destruction of our
environment. For example, if a company produces pollution they should be forced
to pay a tax. We can place a standard tax for all companies and corporations who
do this or we can base the amount owed by the amount of pollution or amount of
destruction caused by the corporation on the environment. For companies that we
are unable to tell how much exactly contribute to the destruction of the
environment, we can require a base sum. A starting base sum could be five
hundred dollars a year for all the companies who contribute to the destroying of
the Earth. We can assemble a committee of U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents to
assess the amount of pollution a company produces and then a fitting cost for
that pollution. It might take a little while to put this proposal into effect.

If we anticipated the slow advancement of passing the law in congress it would
take six or seven years to implement this law. It wouldnt take a lot of
money, but definitely some money would be required. It would take several
thousand to advertise if it wasnt donated by a company who felt strongly
about the issue at hand. I would think an estimate of about $500,00-60,000
dollars would easily cover the expenses of advertising, salaries for workers and
any other expenses. Donations and fundraisers would be used to accumulate enough
money to get the support of the people. When I discussed my proposal with my
friend, she felt that it was a good idea and that the organizations like the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service need the money to study and set up programs to
save endangered species and these programs need money. She felt it would be hard
to get the bill passed because congressmen have ties with big corporations that
pollute and they wouldnt have to pay fees. So most likely the proposal would
be stopped. Although she didnt see the bill being passed she said that if we
accumulate enough money to advertise and get the support of the people,
congressmen would be forced to vote for the bill or they might not be reelected.

If she has strong feelings about this subject, Im sure the majority of this
society is concerned about the environment and about our future. We need to try
and get funds for programs and organizations that help endangered and threatened
species. Many organizations rely on donations and money from supporters. We need
to find ways to get more money for these programs and the proposal of taxes on
companies who pollute is just one possibility. Everyone contributes to the
destruction of the environment and we all have to do our part to help the
species we are killing off. Species like the Pacific Salmon, who were threatened
by the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989. As well as other species like the sea
turtles in Hawaii who were on the verge of extinction until a recent turn around
because of help from organizations and individuals. Individuals who take the
burden upon their shoulders and make it their business to make up for all the
people who could care less what happens to their environment. We need to protect
our environment form the people who seek to destroy it for money and success. I
think the beauty of the ocean is worth saving. Every creature and every unique
species is a creature worth saving. We dont have the right to kill those who
arent as smart or sophisticated as us. They have just as mush right to the
Earth as we do. We dont have the right to over fish herring in Alaska or cut
down all the trees in rain forests just for money and the profit these resources



Interview with Ken Nichols, a known marine sea turtle activists and protector of
environment of the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

3. www.endangered.fws.gov/esa.htm#Lnk11


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