Marine pollution

The word 'pollution' is now widely used as a convenience term for virtually any substance released into the environment by human activities which has a deleterious effect on marine organisms and ecosystems or is a nuisance to mankind. Effects of these materials include smothering and poisoning of organisms, interference with physiology and behaviour, and increase or decrease in biological productivity with consequent effects on organisms in other parts of the food web.

In recent years there has been much concern over the extent to which the oceans may be adversely affected by their use as a dumping ground for an ever-increasing quantity and variety of human and industrial wastes. The amount of literature now available on various aspects of marine pollution is vast. Space can be given here for only a brief review of this important aspect of marine ecology, and for more information students should refer to the key references provided at the end of the chapter.

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