Global Human Impact on the Marine Ecosystem near the Artigas Antarctic Scientific Base, King George Island, Antarctica

Dr Natalia Venturini, Facultad de Ciencias

The annual cycle of sea ice advantage and retraction plays a decisive role in the dynamics and organization of the biological communities of the Antarctic coastal areas. Contributions of land-based material during seasonal glacial spill may influence the production of Antarctic surface waters, the quantity and quality of food available to seafloor organisms and the kidnapping of organic carbon in the sediments of Antarctic marine ecosystems. The increase in atmospheric and sea surface temperature has caused changes in the Antarctic ice cover density during the last 50 years. Depending on global climate change, an even greater prevalence of glacial meltwater in Antarctic marine-coastal areas is likely, but the effects, while still uncertain, could alter the structure and functioning of the biological communities of the Antarctic. Globally, one of the major environmental problems in Antarctic marine ecosystems is pollution of the oceans and coastal areas. There is evidence that plastic waste discarded thousands of miles away is transported by sea currents and causes damage or death of marine organisms in Antarctica. The consumption of plastic by a great diversity of marine organisms (invertebrates, fish, birds, turtles and mammals) causes the death of thousands of individuals every year, as much by direct effects (obstruction of the digestive apparatus), as indirect (incidental death: Animals are entangled in plastic debris). As it deteriorates, plastic increases its ability to retain pollutants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Since the 1970s, toxic effects of these pollutants have been observed, causing reproductive disorders, cancer and metabolic alterations. This not only poses a risk to the health of marine fauna, but also to human health through the consumption of protein from coastal areas. The main objectives of this project are to evaluate the effects of these two types of impact.