Leading-edge anti-inflammatory drugs and potentially life-saving cancer treatments contain ingredients from fish and marine organisms.
Many of the foods you eat contain compounds derived from marine life.
There are 3 to 500 million species of organisms in the ocean, yet these vast resources are largely unexplored.
Aquarius, the world's only undersea laboratory, was reinstalled 63 feet deep in the ocean in late 1997, off the Florida Keys. It allows aquanaut-scientists to live and work continuously underwater for 10 days, while conducting experiments.
A compound derived from ocean sponges is currently being tested against prostate cancer cells; an element found on mangrove roots is a promising anti-tumor agent; and there are marine organisms with properties that have the potential to be used for treating breast and colon cancer, arthritis, and AIDS.
Scientific research leading to marine-based drugs is vital because many infectious organisms have developed strains resistant to soil- and plant-based drugs. Research efforts are also aimed at synthesizing artificial forms of marine compounds, to prevent the depletion of these important natural marine resources.
The ocean provides much more than seafood. Many of the foods and products found in the supermarket contain ingredients from the sea. Peanut butter and toothpaste both contain a compound called carrageenan, which comes from sugars found in red algae. Carrageenan makes peanut butter more spreadable and gives toothpaste its consistency
Marine products are being used by cosmetic companies. Sea Grant scientists discovered a marine compound that is now being used in skin creams. Extracted from a soft coral called Caribbean sea whip, this compound reduces skin inflammation caused by sunburn or irritation, and reduces skin deterioration.
The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has two programs involved in ocean research and exploration -- the National Sea Grant College Program and the National Undersea Research Program.
Twenty years ago, NOAA's National Sea Grant College Program organized the nation's first scientific systematic research to discover and develop new drugs from marine organisms. Sea Grant marine pharmacology programs have resulted in the discovery and description of more than 1,000 marine-derived compounds.
NOAA's National Undersea Research Program provides scientists access to equipment and facilities for underwater research. Available resources range from remotely operated underwater vehicles to the undersea research laboratory Aquarius.
Get educated and share your information!
Look but don't touch, if you scuba dive or snorkel. In the water, your hands, fins and diving equipment can damage the delicate, tiny animals that build a reef. Take care that your fins don't stir up sediments that can smother the corals.
Don't pollute. Plastic bottles and bags and fishing line can injure and kill a variety of marine life. Garbage and human wastes introduce chemicals and nutrient levels that harm the ocean.
Be a wastewater crusader. Help monitor and prevent marine water pollution such as sewage and runoff. Use non-phosphate detergents and cut back on fertilizer to reduce the amount of nutrients entering water bodies. Control runoff and erosion on your property by planting trees, shrubs and grass.
Conserve freshwater. Remember, the less you use means the less runoff and wastewater eventually dump into the ocean.
Promote responsible development. Uncontrolled coastal development and increased population stress adjacent marine ecosystems. As we develop more and more of our undeveloped coastal and inland areas, we place greater pressures on the natural ecosystem to adapt. Over-development can lead to species extinction and ecosystem collapse.
Year of the Ocean Information Line: 1-888-4YOTO98
Year of the Ocean Website: www.yoto.com
To learn more about everyday products that come from the ocean environment, take a walk through the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History's Ocean Planet "virtual exhibit" website: seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/ocean_planet.html
To learn more about coral reefs, visit Hawaii Sea Grant's "1997: International Year of the Reef" website: www.soest.hawaii.edu/SEAGRANT/coralreef.html
To learn more about Sea Grant biotechnology research, with links to other biotechnology-related sites, visit: www.mdsg.umd.edu/NSGO/research/biotech/BiotechSites.html#SG
NOAA's National Sea Grant College Program
Ben Sherman, Media Relations Coordinator
NOAA's National Undersea Research Program
1315 East-West Highway, Room 11805
Silver Spring, MD 20910
The International Year of the Ocean Home Page
is a publication of the NOAA Home Page Design
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