FYS-124 A Dying Ocean: The Increasing Environmental Challenge to the Marine Ecosystem

Instructor: Associate Professor István A. Urcuyo
Department: Biology

Course Description:
Did you know the U.S. has nearly 23,000 miles of ocean shoreline and that half of the population lives within 250 miles of the coast? Were you aware that in the year 2000, beach pollution was to blame for at least 11,270 beach closings and swimming advisories in the U.S.? Does it surprise you to learn that almost 30 million pounds of pesticides are applied annually in areas that drain into the nation's coasts? Did you ever think of air pollution as the beginning of ocean pollution? Why is it that every year the practices of many fishing industries strip bare a section of the sea floor twice the size of the continental U.S.? Did you know that over the past 25 years a large ?Dead Zone? (the size of Massachusetts) has formed in the Gulf of Mexico? Were you aware that for every pound of commercial fish caught, up to 20 pounds of other marine life is discarded? Why are 58% of the world's reefs at risk from human impacts? Did you know that the largest oil spill on a marine environment occurred during the Gulf War? Would you know what seafood to choose at your local markets that's good for you and also good for the oceans? This seminar course will focus on the diverse environmental problems that have and currently are affecting our oceans and all of its organisms. It will examine and discuss the important role of the ocean in our planet, the interdisciplinary aspects of human use of marine resources (economical, political and biological) and how the current marine environmental problems affect all of us regardless of our location. We will investigate what steps have been taken (or need to be taken) to minimize and remove the multiple negative impacts that our growing human population has on our world's ocean. Critically reading, evaluating, discussing, and writing about the primary scientific literature as well as websites and books for the general public will accomplish this. A strong student participation and commitment is expected.