Where Have They Gone



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 don’t 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 it’s 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. 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 1950’s). 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 don’t 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 aren’t 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