Estuary ConservationMaura G and Ruchir GNegative Human Impacts
There are many ways that humans have impacted estuaries; some of the negative impacts include pollution, overfishing, land clearance, and coastal settlement. Run-off is often dumped into estuaries along with contaminants that decompose slowly such as plastics, pesticides, and heavy metals. These toxins sometimes get into the tissues of organisms, harming or possibly killing them. Not only do these chemicals harm the animals but, some chemicals discharged into estuaries also greatly deplete the oxygen in the water, which ruins the water quality and also kills the animals in the area. Overfishing is another major problem for estuaries. For example the Chesapeake Bay used to have an abundance of oysters which is now almost gone. Back then there had been enough oysters to filter the entire estuary's volume of excess nutrients in 3 or 4 days, something that now takes nearly a year.


Positive Human Impacts
Along with negative impacts, humans also impact estuaries in positive ways. One way is fertilization run-off. Even though many fertilizers harm the environment, certain ones can increase animal growth in Estuaries, causing some species to increase in population. Sometimes this is a bad thing, but in most cases it is good. Also, population growth can increase the nutrients found in estuaries, creating a healthier environment with a more nutritious lifestyle. Another way that we help is that when natural disasters occur, we help clean up, and fix the damage. This can stop the area from turning into a dead zone, and can speed up the “healing process”.

People Cleaning up An Estuary After a Severe Storm

Current Issues in Estuaries - BP Oil Spill
One big problem that has affected estuaries is the BP Oil Spill. This specific oil spill only affected estuaries along the Gulf of Mexico. Although the spill did not directly occur in estuaries, the oil slowly moved in to estuaries, affecting the organisms that live there. Many birds and animals were killed, as estuaries are popular breeding and living grounds for shore animals. It also drowned out many plants, the oil restricting them from getting clean water, nutrients, and from getting sun. The oil also temporarily affected the current of the water, the thick layer of oil slowing down the current from its normal flow. Many efforts have been put in to help the oil spill. People have taken shovels and nets to the shores to clean the on-shore damage. They also have gone out on small boats and rescued animals and plants that were trapped by the oil. This was the most popular method in estuaries. Also, they have put giant “bumpers” along the edge of the spill to stop it from moving farther out while they tried to clean it up. This was and still is a big problem in estuaries, but organizations and local people are constantly cleaning up the rest of the oil.

Birds Eye View of the Oil Spill

Oil Spill in Estuaries

Problems in Estuaries - Contaminants

One large problem in estuaries is contamination. Contaminants include fertilizers, pesticides, plastics, and PCBs. We can take action to protect estuaries even in our own yard as experts suggest. Experts have told people to be completely confidant that they want to add additional nutrients or fertilizers before using them. Scientists also suggest looking for alternatives such as a compost bin that won’t harm the estuaries that these contaminants run off into. Scientists have also suggested that people make sure that their boat’s oil isn’t leaking into the estuary that they are boating in. You should also water your lawn conservatively so there will be less runoff going into estuaries.

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