Baltic Sea is Dead

Baltic Pollution

Baltic Pollution

If we do nothing, the Baltic Sea will change into a green, slimy swamp. Presently the bottom of the Baltic Sea is dead. When Professor Marek Zajączkowski from the Institute of Oceanography of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) in Gdynia brings samples of sediment from the bottom of the Baltic Sea to his lab, all the scientists put on gloves and masks. “The stench is unbearable. It is a black silt saturated in sulphureted hydrogen which smells like a rotten egg. These are decaying organic remains: rotting plants and the faeces of animals. Only anaerobic micro-organisms exist here, nothing else can survive,” claims the professor. Within the last hundred years, the state of the Baltic Sea has dramatically worsened. The situation is increasingly deteriorating in ever more places on the bottom of the Baltic, especially in its lowest depths where, until recently, many big fish lived and reproduced. What is happening there is so alarming that several weeks ago the prestigious scientific American magazine “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” published a lengthy article on the subject. Scientists from the universities of Århus in Denmark and Stockholm and Lund in Sweden have demonstrated how within a hundred years, the number and volume of so-called dead zones, that is areas in which only anaerobic organisms linger in the filthy, stinking silt, has vastly increased. The Baltic Sea does not only harbour a dead bottom, but also huge quantities of anaerobic water above it. Cod no longer have space to reproduce. Conditions at the seaside are worsening also. The water becomes too murky at a depth of 6-12 metres for plants to survive. “Not only have our vast underwater fields of rockweed become extinct but also the red alga Furcellaria is dying out,” says Professor Krzysztof Skóra, manager of the Naval Station at Gdańsk University in Hel, “The marine fauna is the canteen and spawning ground for a large number of Baltic fish. If there is no place for reproduction, they will become extinct.”

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