Pollutants recovered in the sediments of Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico have demonstrated some of the "highest concentrations of PCBs, chlordane, chromium and nickel ever measured in the history of NOAA’s National Status & Trends, a nationwide contaminant monitoring program that began in 1986," according to a recent NOAA study.
"These concentrations of pollutants represent serious toxic threats to corals, fish and benthic fauna -- bottom dwelling animal life and plants," said David Whitall, Ph.D., the report’s principal investigator and NOAA ecologist, in a statement.
"We also observed lower indicators of biological health, such as how much of the coral covers the sea floor offshore from Guánica Bay when compared to an adjacent study area, La Parguera. Further research is needed to determine if this is the result of the toxins or some other cause. At this point, we cannot definitively link it to pollution."
Regardless of the cause, researchers say the study outlines the importance of contaminant monitoring.
NOAA hopes the new study will help establish baseline conditions that can be used to manage pollution in the future.