How can commonly used agricultural chemicals harm wetland ecosystems and marine life?

Common Agricultural Chemicals: Agricultural chemicals, such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, are commonly used on land to help control pests and promote plant growth. However, these chemicals can end up in the ocean, where they can harm marine ecosystems and wildlife.

One way that agricultural chemicals can enter the ocean is through runoff. When it rains, water can carry these chemicals off of fields and into nearby rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. From there, the chemicals can be carried into the ocean. Runoff can also carry sediment and other pollutants, such as oil, grease, and trash, which can further harm marine ecosystems and wildlife.

Agricultural chemicals can also enter the ocean through the process of leaching. Leaching occurs when water from irrigation or precipitation percolates through the soil and carries chemicals with it. These chemicals can end up in groundwater, which can then flow into rivers, streams, and other bodies of water, ultimately making their way into the ocean.

Once in the ocean, agricultural chemicals can have a range of negative impacts on marine ecosystems and wildlife. Pesticides and herbicides can be toxic to marine life, and fertilizers can cause an excess of nutrients in the water, leading to problems such as algal blooms and eutrophication. These events can harm marine ecosystems and wildlife, including coral reefs and fish populations. Overall, agricultural chemicals that end up in the ocean can have significant negative impacts on marine ecosystems and wildlife, and it is important to carefully manage the use of these chemicals to minimize their potential impacts.

Commonly used agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides can have detrimental effects on wetland ecosystems and marine life in Hawaii. Runoff of agricultural chemicals into the ocean can have damaging effects on coral reef ecosystems and marine life, including a decrease in the diversity and abundance of fish and other organisms, an increase in disease outbreaks, and a decrease in reef health. Agricultural chemicals can increase the amount of nutrients found in the water, leading to changes in the physical and chemical environment, which can affect the entire wetland ecosystem.

Read more about Common Agricultural Chemicals harming marine ecosystems in Hawaii.

Siltation causes ocean pollution that impacts coral reefs. Photo: Vernon Kalanikau


Further Reading: 

Nutrient pollution makes ocean acidification worse for coral reefs

Agricultural Contaminants (USGS)