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 example, but if you take a species out of its environment, then
a chain reaction would occur, hurting the species around it. Another species
that biologists are beginning to study wit the money received from the Exxon

Valdez settlement is the Alaskan Salmon. The oil spill has left the Alaskan

Salmon on the decline until recently, but still the species is reeling. “The
last two years have been extremely positive for the Alaskan Salmon
population,” stated one Alaskan biologists. But her concerns were more focused
on the salmon offspring, which had been effected by the spill. Fry, as seen in
the left vial, were damaged by the oil. The fry still come in contact with oil
when oil pockets seep into some intertidal spawning streams. “These pockets
are like mines,” says Jeffrey Short, a scientist with the National Marine

Fisheries Service. Scientist discovered the oil caused genetic defects in
salmon. Many species in the Prince William Sound are still recovering from the
spill. This is just one spill and you can see the devastation it has made upon
its ecosystem. This has been called one of the worst oil spills in history. But
you can imagine there has been numerous spills that are almost as areas might
never fully recover from the spill on their ecosystem. The devastation of an oil
spill is just one of many causes of marine destruction that humans are guilty
of. Many other species suffer from damaged habitats. Another example of humans
destroying their environment and the unique species that live there is Hawaiian

Sea turtles. The turtles are becoming endangered because of loss of habitat. The
overwhelming presence of humans in the turtle’s habitat is making is harder
for turtles to find areas where they can lay their eggs. The loss of nesting
sites if hurting the reproduction of sea turtles because unpopulated beaches are
becoming harder to find. Sea turtles have an affinity for certain beaches and
when they cannot lay their eggs there they have to find new areas which can take
time. Other reasons why the turtles are being threatened are pollution of the
ocean and netting. Pollution in the form of debris is killing turtles. They can
ingest the plastic debris and it makes it hard to get the nourishment needed
from the food they eat. Netting is another killer of turtles. Fishing nets set
out by commercial fisherman are a definite killer of sea turtles in the Hawaiian

Islands. ( Erosion of beaches also hurts the sea
turtle population. The lack of beach force turtles to lay their eggs in a
smaller area. When humans try to stop or reduce erosion it disturbs the turtles