(CBSMiami) – Beneath the Atlantic Oceans’ shining waters lies a potential risk and experts are raising alarming questions about the health of our oceans and the impact it could have on the life above and below the sea.
CBS4 Chief Investigator Michele Gillen recently looked into the problem with an undersea explorer who has the ocean in his blood.
Meet Fabien Cousteau, he’s a third-generation ocean explorer who sees a lifeline for humans in desperate trouble.
“When you look out at this magnificent ocean what do you see?” Gillen asked Cousteau.
“I see the future. I see mystery. I see a place that really needs to be understood,” Cousteau said.
But he is also sounding out a warning: “What we are putting in our water system is coming back to haunt us.”
Cousteau, the grandson of the great granddad of the seas Jacques Cousteau, carries on the late pioneer’s passion to fight poisoning of our oceans, which is now reflected in face of sick and mutant fish.
“We’re injecting chemicals by the tens of thousands into the ocean,” Cousteau said. “That ends up in our plates, through that fish, through that sea life.”
CBS4’s Gillen also asked him about recent reports of fishermen pulling up shrimp with no eyes.
“With no eyes, with too many legs or that are all one sex,” Cousteau added.
An undersea photographer and advocate for the world’s aquatic backyard, Cousteau is raising awareness over disfigured and sick fish turning up with open sores, lesions and tumors that researchers believe are harbingers of human health.
“We are actually seeing three-eyed fish. We are seeing alligators with stunted genitals. We are seeing bass that grow all female because of all the estrogen in the water,” Cousteau said.
Cancer causing PBC’s, mercury, arsenic, DDT are all showing up in fish, which we may eat.
Gillen said, “Unfortunately, so many more even more toxic chemicals are showing up in our fish.”
“Unfortunately, you are right,” Cousteau added.
He says the contaminants in the sea impact our health.
“There’s a garbage patch in every ocean. That plastic lasts forever. It ends up in the food web and it ends up in orcas, in ourselves,” he said.
“The orcas are a good example of an animal, a mammal that’s a direct reflection in the oceans. Orcas are now getting cancer rates. They are born with physical disabilities.”
And that’s why he’s trying to make a difference.
“When you open your eyes to the mysterious underwater world it’s impossible to turn your back on it. I guess in a sense it’s been infused in my blood,” Cousteau said.
He took his first dive with his grandfather at 4 years old, a man he remains in awe of.
“I think my grandfather was a pioneer and a visionary,” he said.
Now, some three decades later, he works to expose problems, offer solutions, and make an imprint in Florida taking Gillen on his mission to plant red mangrove seeds at John U. Lloyd State Park.
“Some might say it’s a dirty job, but this one seedling could make a huge difference,” he said.
As the mangroves provide the environment for fish to breed- he’s christened his campaign -plant a fish.
“It’s planting things that fish depend on. Mangroves, corals which are the rainforests of the sea. Sea turtles which are iconic and the gardeners of the sea,” he said. “I’m walking a fine line, that blue line between land and sea. Selfishly, I’m much more comfortable underwater. But in order to invite others to my world I want to get them to walk on the beach. On a river, next to a lake, anywhere where the circulatory river of life connects us. At the end of the day it’s not about hugging sharks, it’s not about loving whales. It’s about ourselves. The survival of our species.”
Cousteau’s biggest concern remains the impact of the BP Oil spill in the Gulf. Researchers, fisherman and Cousteau say that while the disaster has largely vanished from the headlines, the potential effects may just be becoming more visible.