The March of the Contaminated Penguins

Environmental Science and Technology will publish the results of what researcher, Heidi Geisz of Virginia Institute for Marine Science, found in her study of Antartic penguins. DDT, banned by the US in 1973 and later by most of the world due to the effects found in animal and human health, appears now in the penguin tissues at the same level as found in the 1970s. In fact, tests reveal a “new DDT” which appears to be DDT broken down having a different chemical signature than the original. How could this happen? DDT and other toxic pesticides were never used in this geographical area. Due to climate change and the melting of the glaciers, pesticides which have been locked into the ice are now being released into the water. This is consumed by the krill (small shrimp- like crustraceans) which make up a large part of the penguin’s diet….and there it is! DDT and other toxic pesticides were carried through the atmosphere, deposited on the ice and snow then absorbed by the microbial organisms and locked into the ice. The movement through the ecosystem is clear.

Goodness! One has to wonder other precious creatures on the earth are being affected by changes in the ecosystem due to global warming and climate change.

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One comment on “The March of the Contaminated Penguins

  1. Christine Hart
    June 24, 2008

    Interestingly , I just came across an article in a Maine newspaper, the Portland Press Herald (June 24), about the decrease in moose populations in several northern states, including New Hampshire, Michigan and Alberta, Canada, due to consequences of climate change/global warming. It seems that winter ticks ( smaller than deer and wood ticks) are not dying off as in the past and are being blamed for infesting young moose calves , taking as much as 8 liters of blood, leaving them anemic and too weak to survive the winter. The ticks thrive when the snowpak comes late in the season and melts early, as in recent trends . During one peak year the ticks killed more than half of the moose calves in northern New Hampshire, the article stated. Warmer summers, resulting in an increased number of parasites, have been blamed for a very sharp decline in the Minnesota moose population, too.
    It is shocking to contemplate what is happening to some of our animal populations in the name of progress!

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