chapter  13
10 Pages

Ecological Risk Assessment in Coastal and Estuarine Environments

The Edge of the Sea


This being the case, it is puzzling that

Silent Spring

, a book literally changing how we view our relationship with our environment, contained so little material about marine pollution. Such inconsistencies about marine environments were commonplace at that time. At the same time that the last two books were published, the first author spent many indolent hours as a child on a particular Long Island Sound beach, alternately watching for dolphins on the horizon and, at the sand’s edge, watching rats scurrying between the riprap in search of edible garbage. Much more effort was spent scanning for surfacing dolphins than watching the rats compete for garbage. Tar balls and rusty aerosol cans were as plentiful in the drift zone as were skate egg cases and strings of whelk eggs. At one end of the beach was a picturesque New England lighthouse silhouetted against plumes of smoke rising above the Bridgeport city dump. Coastal pollution was as obvious as that in nearby streams, lakes, and lands, but, for the coastal and estuarine habitats, the eye

was drawn more to attractive, not degraded, seaside features. The tide of contamination was similarly rising in other coastal environs but was viewed only peripherally. We focused on the aesthetic and recreational pleasures of the coast. Although much less apparent today, remnants of this tendency to ignore the evidence of degradation exist in our activities.