National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
×

From Monsoons to Microbes

Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health

Committee on the Ocean's Role in Human Health

Ocean Studies Board

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C. 1999

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
×

Page ii

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS • 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W. • Washington, D.C. 20418

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance.

This report and the committee were supported by grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

From monsoons to microbes : understanding the ocean's role in human health / Ocean Studies Board, 
Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources, National Research Council.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
ISBN 0-309-06569-0 (casebound)
1. Marine pollution—Health aspects. 2. Marine microbiology. 3.
Marine pharmacology. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Ocean
Studies Board.
RA600 .F76 1999                    99-6094
616.9´8—dc21

From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health is available from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 OR (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu

Cover art: Small single-celled algae known as dinoflagellates fall on the background of a rainstorm, along with a satellite image of a hurricane brewing over the tropical ocean. The dinoflagellates are watercolors taken from C.A. Kofoid and O. Swezy (1921), "The Free-Living Unarmored Dinoflagellata," Memoirs of the University of California, Vol. 5, University of California Press, Berkeley.

Copyright 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
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Committee on the Ocean's Role in Human Health

WILLIAM FENICAL, Chair, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

DANIEL BADEN, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

MAURICE BURG, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET, Pan American Health Organization, Washington, D.C.

DARRELL JAY GRIMES, The University of Southern Mississippi, Ocean Springs

MICHAEL KATZ, March of Dimes, White Plains, New York

NANCY MARCUS, Florida State University, Tallahassee

SHIRLEY POMPONI, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Inc., Fort Pierce, Florida

PETER RHINES, University of Washington, Seattle

PATRICIA TESTER, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Beaufort, North Carolina

JOHN VENA, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo

Staff

SUSAN ROBERTS, Study Director

SHARI MAGUIRE, Senior Project Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
×

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Ocean Studies Board

KENNETH BRINK, Chair, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

ALICE ALLDREDGE, University of California, Santa Barbara

DAVID BRADLEY, Pennsylvania State University, State College

DAN BROMLEY, University of Wisconsin, Madison

OTIS BROWN, University of Miami, Florida

WILLIAM CURRY, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

RANA FINE, University of Miami, Florida

CARL FRIEHE, University of California, Irvine

ROBERT GAGOSIAN, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

JOHN HOBBIE, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

EILEEN HOFMANN, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia

EDWARD HOUDE, University of Maryland, Solomons

JOHN KNAUSS, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett

ROBERT KNOX, University of California, San Diego

RAY KRONE, University of California, Davis

LOUIS LANZEROTTI, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, New Jersey

NANCY MARCUS, Florida State University, Tallahassee

B. GREGORY MITCHELL, University of California, San Diego

NEIL OPDYKE, University of Florida, Gainesville

MICHAEL ORBACH, Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, North Carolina

TERRANCE QUINN, University of Alaska, Juneau

JAMES RAY, Equilon Enterprises LLC, Houston, Texas

GEORGE SOMERO, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, California

PAUL STOFFA, University of Texas, Austin

KARL TUREKIAN, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Staff

MORGAN GOPNIK, Director

EDWARD R. URBAN, JR., Senior Program Officer

DAN WALKER, Senior Program Officer

SUSAN ROBERTS, Program Officer

ROBIN MORRIS, Financial Associate

SHARI MAGUIRE, Senior Project Assistant

LORA TAYLOR, Senior Project Assistant

JENNIFER WRIGHT, Senior Project Assistant

ANN CARLISLE, Project Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
×

Page v

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville

PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle

B. JOHN GARRICK, PLG, Inc., Newport Beach, California

THOMAS E. GRAEDEL, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

DEBRA KNOPMAN, Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.

KAI N. LEE, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts

JUDITH E. MCDOWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

RICHARD A. MESERVE, Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C.

HUGH C. MORRIS, Canadian Global Change Program, Delta, British Columbia

RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario

H. RONALD PULLIAM, University of Georgia, Athens

THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park

VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida

E-AN ZEN, University of Maryland, College Park

MARY LOU ZOBACK, United States Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California

Staff

ROBERT M. HAMILTON, Executive Director

GREGORY H. SYMMES, Assistant Executive Director

JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative and Financial Officer

SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate

MARQUITA SMITH, Administrative Assistant/Technology Analyst

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
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Page vi

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility of advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
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Page vii

FOREWARD

1998 has been declared the International Year of the Ocean (YOTO). This has led to the initiation of a number of activities meant to enhance the public's awareness of the ocean and to improve our ability to deal effectively with the hydrosphere. One useful and important activity that each of us could undertake as YOTO draws to a close would be to think about the ways the ocean affects our lives. Some connections are clear: people in the transportation industry might express concern about tides, winds and currents and how they affect the safety and economics of shipping. People in the fishing industry might recognize how their livelihoods depend on the health and productivity of the fishing grounds. The broader public might value the ocean as a source of food and recreation, and remember how the warm Pacific Ocean waters of the 1997–98 El Niño brought unusually warm, wet weather to much of the United States. There are many other immediate connections between the ocean and human activities.

However, this report examines another, less often recognized, aspect of how the ocean affects our lives; the implications of ocean phenomena for human health. That this issue has not been discussed broadly is probably a reflection of the diverse ways in which the ocean influences health. The following report explores the nature of these connections, considers the state of knowledge in important areas, and makes recommendations for how improvements can be made in human health through a better understanding of the oceans.

KENNETH BRINK
CHAIR, OCEAN STUDIES BOARD

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
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There was a problem loading page R8.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
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Page ix

PREFACE

The Committee on the Ocean's Role in Human Health was charged with examining a variety of ways in which the oceans play a role in human health: from large-scale physical processes to micro-scale biochemical processes. This report is intended as an overview of these issues, a starting point for considering how the marine sciences have contributed and can continue to contribute to improving human health.

This study began with a workshop on the Ocean's Role in Human Health to bring together members of the ocean sciences, medical, and public health communities for discussion of various topics connecting the study of marine processes and marine organisms to the promotion of human health. The committee extends its gratitude to the following individuals who spoke at the workshop and provided background information for the report: Lorraine Backer, Robert Baker, Frances Carr, David Epel, Joan Ferraris, Sherwood Hall, Anwarul Huq, John Marchalonis, Baldomero Olivera, Joan Rose, Lynn "Nick" Shay, Benjamin Sherman, Erika Siegfried, Milan Trpis, and William Wiseman.

The committee is grateful for the assistance provided by the following individuals who provided additional background material, data, and figures for consideration and use by the committee: Donald M. Anderson, Paul Epstein, Eric L. Geist, George N. Pavlakis, Lynn "Nick" Shay, and Stephen A. Stricker. For their assistance in data gathering, preparation, and consultation the committee extends its thanks to the following individuals: Constance Carter and Adrienne Davis.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
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Page x

review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Duane Gubler, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Judith McDowell, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Jonathan Patz, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; Roger Pielke, National Center for Atmospheric Research; Michael Roman, University of Maryland; Sandra Shumway, Southampton College, Long Island University; Patrick Walsh, University of Miami; and Jaw-Kai Wang, University of Hawaii. While the individuals listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

The committee gratefully acknowledges the efforts of the Ocean Studies Board (OSB) staff who helped to produce this report, particularly the study director, Susan Roberts, and the project assistant, Shari Maguire. For their efforts in bringing this activity to fruition, the committee wishes to thank Morgan Gopnik, OSB director; Daniel Walker, OSB program officer, and the staff of the Board on Health Sciences Policy at the Institute of Medicine. This study was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

WILLIAM FENICAL
CHAIR, COMMITTEE ON THE OCEAN'S ROLE IN HUMAN HEALTH

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
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Page xi

CONTENTS

Executive Summary

1

Introduction

9

Part I: Hazards to Human Health From the Oceans

15

1 Climate and Weather, Coastal Hazards, and Public Health

17

The Physical Ocean Environment: Circulation and Stratification

17

Public Health and Problems Caused by Tropical Storms and Other Marine Natural Disasters

19

Forcasting Tropical Storms

23

Estuaries and the Coastal Ocean

27

Climate Variability and Global Climate Change

33

New Technologies for Ocean Environmental Observation

39

Conclusions

41

2 Infectious  Diseases

43

Waterborne Diseases

43

Vector-borne Diseases

53

Conclusions

56

3 Harmful Algal Blooms

59

Harmful Algal Bloom Hazards in Food

60

Research Requirements Aimed at Diagnostics, Therapeutics, and Prevention

68

Conclusions

69

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
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Page xii

Part II: Value of Marine Biodivirsity to Biomedicine

71

4 Marine-Derived Pharmaceuticals and Related Bioactive Agents

73

The Marine Environment as a Source of Chemical Diversity

74

The Discovery and Development of Marine Pharmaceuticals:Current Status

75

Marine Microorganisms as a Novel Resource for New Drugs

77

The Marine Environment as a Source of Molecular Probes

79

The Ocean as a Source of New Nutritional Supplements

80

Conclusions

81

5 Marine Organisms as Models for Biomedical Research

83

Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, Tunicates, and Sharks: Their Role in Understanding How the Body Fights Infection and Disease

84

Sea Urchin and Clam Eggs: Their Role in Understanding Cell Biology and Biochemistry

87

Marine Organisms: Their Role in Physiological Studies Pertaining to Fluid and Ion Transport, Renal Function, and Volume Regulation

89

The Toadfish: Its Role in Unraveling the Neural Control of Balance and Equilibrium

91

Horseshoe Crabs: Their Role in Understanding Retinal Function and How Eyes See

92

Aplysia: Its Role in Discovering the Molecular Basis of Learning and Memory

92

The Squid Giant Axon: Its Role in Establishing How Nerve Impulses are Conducted

93

Use of Fish as Models for Human Diseases

94

Conclusions

95

6 Literature Cited

97

Appendixes

 

A Committee and Staff Biographies

115

B Acronyms and Abbreviations

119

C Program for the Workshop on the Ocean's Role in Human Health

123

Index

127

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1999. From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6368.
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What can sharks teach us about our immune system? What can horseshoe crabs show us about eyesight?

The more we learn about the ocean, the more we realize how critical these vast bodies of water are to our health and well-being. Sometimes the ocean helps us, as when a marine organism yields a new medical treatment. At other times, the ocean poses the threat of coastal storm surges or toxic algal blooms.

From Monsoons to Microbes offers a deeper look into the oceans that surround us, often nurturing yet sometimes harming humankind. This book explores the links among physical oceanography, public health, epidemiology, marine biology, and medicine in understanding what the ocean has to offer. It will help readers grasp such important points as:

  • How the ocean's sweeping physical processes create long-term phenomena such as El Nino and short-term disastrous events such as tsunamis--including what communities can do to prepare.
  • What medicines and nutritional products have come from the ocean and what the prospects are for more such discoveries.
  • How estuaries work--where salt and fresh water meet--and what can go wrong, as in the 7,000 square mile "dead zone" at the out-flow of the Mississippi River.
  • How the growing demand for seafood and the expansion of ocean-going transport has increased our exposure to infectious agents--and how these agents can be tracked down and fought.
  • Why "red tides" of toxic algae suddenly appear in previously unaffected coastal areas, and what happens when algal toxins find their way into our food supply or the air we breathe.

The book recommends ways we can implement exciting new technologies to monitor the physics, chemistry, and biology of the ocean to recognize change as it happens. From the impact of worldwide atmospheric warming to the significance of exotic bacteria from submarine hydrothermal vents, the ocean has many depths left to explore.

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