Understanding Food Nets and the Risk of Toxins in Sea Animals

Body Health
Humans often dispose of plastic waste in rivers and seas. This irresponsible action will ultimately endanger the human body consuming fish and sea animals that live in these waters. Food webs will help you understand it. Food webs are connections between one food chain and another food chain in an ecosystem. The food chain itself consists of one living thing that consumes other living things. Because one living thing can eat more than one type of food and living things can be eaten by more than one other living creature, food webs are formed.

An example of a simple food web phase that starts from plants can be found as follows.

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  • Plants use sunlight to form seeds, leaves, and fruit.
  • Plants, such as grass, are then consumed by cows as herbivores or level 1 consumers.
  • Cows are then consumed by humans as level 2 consumers or carnivores or peak consumers.
  • The dead human body is decomposed by worms and other bacteria which are then used by plants to develop.

These food nets are also found in the sea, that is, in fish that initially consume plankton then consumed by humans. The problem that then arises is when the waters are polluted, these fish do not only consume plankton, but also garbage and waste around it.

This pollution is thought to be caused by waste from factory disposal. This condition results in fish that are usually caught floating to death.

Seafood Nets and Hazardous Chemicals

Varying the consumption of fish and marine animals are indeed needed to meet the needs of protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. But now, after understanding food webs, we understand that what is consumed by animals that humans will consume is at risk of causing health problems to these humans.

Pollutants are generally insoluble chemicals of human waste. Once released into nature, this material will accumulate in food webs, causing interference with all living things that consume, including humans.

These pollutants continue to stay in the bodies of these marine animals until they are finally consumed by humans. One example is mercury. Most of the mercury found in fish can actually be tolerated by the body, but some fish and marine animals can contain high levels of mercury. At this high level, children and pregnant women are the groups most at risk for negative effects.

High levels of mercury can cause damage to the brain and nervous system of the fetus. When humans consume contaminated fish, the mercury will be absorbed also into the body and cause interference with high doses. Over time, this mercury will come out of the body through urine, feces, and breast milk as well.

Reducing Risk

If you don't know for sure whether the fish or marine animals to be consumed are truly mercury-free and other pollutants, it's good to take the following steps.
  • Avoid fish that are at high risk of containing mercury, such as king mackerel, today, sharks, goldfish, and marlin.
  • Limit consumption of canned tuna.
  • Limit consumption of marine animals at risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals in the sea, such as shellfish, grouper, halibut, lobster, mahi-mahi.
  • Avoid fishing for consumption in areas that are at risk of exposure to mercury.
  • Be careful when eating sushi. Make sure to eat in a clean place so you are sure that the fish served is safe for consumption.

Meanwhile, the recommended fish and marine animals are shrimp, tuna, squid, salmon, sardines and crabs.

Besides mercury, you should also be aware of pesticide contamination that can contaminate freshwater fish around agricultural land. In addition, other pollutants found in Indonesian waters are plastic waste which does not often contain Bisphenol A (BPA).

Over time, these plastics reach the sea and are degraded into smaller debris due to exposure to sunlight, waves, and oxidation. The research found that chemicals from the plastic can be absorbed and stay in the body of marine animals. If these marine animals are consumed by humans, these microplastic particles can be absorbed into the placenta of pregnant women, the gastrointestinal glands and lungs, and blood in the brain. Although this review needs further research, it is better to reduce risk with the steps above.

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