- MONTEREY, Calif. (Reuters)
- Most Americans believe healthy oceans are key to human survival, but
far fewer realize that individuals, not industry, pose the biggest environmental
threat to the seas, according to a poll released on Tuesday.
- The poll, commissioned by a consortium of museums, aquariums
and zoos that together form The Ocean Project, asked 1,500 U.S. adults
about how the Earth's oceans function and what environmental risks they
- While 92 percent of the poll respondents said oceans
were critical to maintaining a habitable planet, a full 66 percent mistakenly
thought industrial waste was the main threat to the ocean environment.
- Instead, small-scale runoff from yards, roads and farms
is the primary cause of ocean pollution today -- a fact known by only 14
percent of the poll respondents.
- ``An estimated 15 times more oil than the Exxon Valdez
spill finds its way into the sea annually from street runoff and individual
dumping into municipal storm drains,'' the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of
the Ocean Project's sponsors, said in a news release. The Exxon Valdez
spilled about 35,000 tons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound in
- The Ocean Project said it would use the poll results
to help design a series of major programs and exhibits designed to boost
public awareness of the threats to the oceans' health.
- ``We now have a good understanding of where we need to
go,'' said Bill Mott, the project's director. ``People have a fundamental
sense that oceans are important and they play an integral role in the balance
of nature. The next steps will be to show people how oceans relate to human
survival and what each of us can do to protect them for the future.''
- The poll was conducted July 24-Aug. 8 and had a margin
of error of 2.5 percentage points.