Friday, September 27, 2019

Good and Bad News for Dolphins but Mainly Bad

"Forgive me father for I have sinned, it has been thirteen days since my last blog post."

"You're forgiven," replied my father.  "Also, who gave you our number?"

Despite the absence of your scribe to record events the world has kept staggering on approaching the inevitable heat death of the universe with, by this stage, a certain amount of anticipation.  Along the way a teenager lambasted various politicians for destroying her future (after that performance she'd better hope she's right), some Americans decided to impeach their president (for seeking help to discredit a political opponent who has proved perfectly capable of discrediting himself) and the British government became even more of a slobbering farce than it was the previous day (due to all sorts of things but basically boiled down to the fact that the only people qualified to arrange Brexit would rather drown their children in the bath whereas all the politicians in favour of Brexit would be intellectually challenged running a bath) oh and dolphins in the English Channel have unacceptably high levels of PCBs.

I was astounded; given that the English Channel is made up of approximately equal parts oil slicks and discarded condoms I couldn't believe that dolphins lived in the thing at all.  The fact that dolphins with such a low rent address have health issues is somewhat more believable.  PCBs are, ok, I've no idea what they are but apparently they're some sort of chemically thing that we used to pump into the environment for kicks.  They have bad impacts on living things, particularly larger living things.  At this point its probably a good thing elephants aren't aquatic.  Dolphins unfortunately are one of the larger living things PCBs have a bad impact on.

Apparently it mucks about with a dolphins ability to reproduce. It's also passed from mother to child so even if a dolphin does manage to reproduce (and since we still have dolphins presumably some do) that is no guarantee that the next generation will be blessed with the splishy splash of tiny flippers.  If we really want to guarantee dolphin survival (I'm going out on a limb and assuming most people do) then we have to get rid of the PCBs.  Unfortunately there's a problem, we stopped pumping PCBs into the water system decades ago.  The PCBs currently causing the problem date from prior to our stopping and are actually in the dolphins themselves thus making them a little difficult to get rid of.  At least they're difficult to get rid of if you want a live dolphin population at the end of the exercise.  If not set up a few dolphin blenders and get to work.

PCBs are only one of the problems facing the dolphins.  Being an apex predator may seem cool if your sole experience with such things is watching The Lion King but what it actually means is that essentially the dolphins are landfill for every piece of crap in the foodchain.  Dolphins in the channel have so much mercury in them that they actually hover several feet above the waves on hot days.  They contain so many pesticides that grating a dolphin over your fields would be an effective way of protecting your crops and this is before we even get to the PCBs.

If we ever succeed in completely cleaning up the oceans we're going to have to accept that a lot of the larger sea life probably no longer meets health and safety standards.  There are two positive things to come out the above somewhat depressing survey.  Firstly we still have dolphins which shows a remarkable amount of resilience.  Secondly the presence of this cocktail of chemical death will hopefully persuade people not to eat them.

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