Q: Is there any evidence of pollution at the depths that you are working? How have man-made agents impacted the fish and crabs that you are finding?
A: We do find pollutionboth intentional and unintentionalwhen we are in the sub. We find nets, lines, and anchors that ships probably did not intend to leave behind, as well as trash. Because paper degrades quickly, the majority of the trash we see consists of metal cans or glass.
The most evident human impact occurs where dredges have destroyed huge patches of coral. Coral grows very slowly, and in 15 minutes a poorly-placed dredge can knock down centuries’ worth of growth.
Of course, there are things in the environment that cannot be seen, but that can be measured through sensors or recorded over time. Changes in water quality can do more than knock down a patch of coralæthey can kill the reef. Part of our job is to record the chemistry of the water today so we can note any changes in the future.