Saturday 15 February 2020

Polluting Our Environment

The Firth of Thames is about two hours drive away from us and often plays host to visiting migrant birds as well as several local species of seabird.   When we have warm water temperatures combining with an excess of phosphorus and nitrogen (from agricultural run-off and urban waste water) the end result is algal bloom, which is now being thought responsible for the death of several Red Knot, Godwit and Wrybill birds in this area. 

Godwits at Omokoroa

Years ago we would gather shellfish (tuatua, pipi, Pacific rock oysters) in Tauranga Harbour and along the coastline of the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel Peninsular.  Now nearly every summer these waters suffer algal bloom issues and it is no longer safe to eat the shellfish.  Part of the problem here is the huge growth of Tauranga Port with a constant stream of ships entering and leaving, resulting in a lot more waste being dropped into the surrounding ocean.

Pacific rock oysters, gathered off mudflat mangroves

Nature has a miraculous way of recovering if it is given a chance.  This was demonstrated after the Rena oil disaster off the coast of Papamoa in 2011.  The area was closed to fishermen for several years and many fish species were able to regenerate undisturbed in the vicinity of the wreck.  They thrived, and some species returned after years of absence.  When fishing was allowed again, the area was decimated within three months!  Really, what are we doing to the world we live in?

Oil washing ashore at Papamoa in 2011

At home here in Hamilton, all our drinking water is obtained from the Waikato River.  During the 1980s (so long ago!) I was able to visit a water treatment station and was frankly horrified to see how filthy this water was before it was treated. 

The Waikato River, near Arapuni

I believe the water quality has improved since then, through strict regulation, but it has not returned to the pristine quality it used to have – I spoke with an old Maori gentleman at Huntly (further down the river) many years ago and he told me how they used to swim across the river as children and you could see the bottom of it the whole way across.

Pollution is not new - this photo was taken in 1983

I guess it is a bit idealistic to expect our environment to be free of pollution.  We live in an industrial world after all, and mankind seems bent on destroying his world.  Even outer space is filling up with debris. 

It is all very well to say we should do our bit on a personal basis (and we should) but it is mostly a band-aid on a much deeper global problem that appears to have no easy answer.

Sorry if this is a bit of a dismal post, but these things are having a serious impact on the world we live in.  Happier things tomorrow :)



  1. Margaret, I see you also get the stupid spam which I wish I could block but don't know how.
    The whole pollution problem is so disheartening. Our individual efforts are such a drop in the bucket but one keeps on trying.

    1. Yes those spammers are just stupid people who like to spoil things for others. I delete them to spam when I find them, but have never discovered how to block them (I don't think it is possible).

  2. On the edge of industrial Europe, we think of your part of the world as being a long way from pollution - so it's frightening to know that there are bad bits there too

  3. It is awful when you think what we humans have done to this lovely world.

  4. If we can find a way to destroy the environment, ourselves, and other creatures we will do it. There is no end to our recklessness. Homo sapiens is without question a plague on the earth.

  5. You are right, "but"... we really try it all here in Germany. Paper, bio, plastic, glass, batteries, plastic bottles (takes ages!).
    Then have a look to some other huge countries. All goes in the same bin.
    Or: I´ve heard a couple of times all the stuff we separate gets burned in one big bin. Or shipped to China (they now refuse to take it, a mini-yay).
    They wrap cucumbers in plastic here!!! Not kidding! We get milk here in Northern Germany from South Germany - why??? There are enough cows here!
    Apples from... you get the idea.
    Do I need raspberries in winter? Fresh????
    Sorry... but it´s become a sick world (here).

    1. Believe it or not, but our country is just as bad although perhaps our recycling efforts lag a bit behind yours. Our long cucumbers are wrapped in plastic. Our milk comes in plastic. Most of our tomatoes come from Australia. Out-of-season produce is frequently on the shelves from other countries. Nearly everything we produce is exported and then we import to replace it. Pigs are classic. We have pig farmers, but most of our bacon still comes from China and most of our pork from Canada. I don't see any sense in it.

  6. I fear for the future of our children and grandchildren.


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