Aquatic Environment, a major reservoir of man’s hope for the future” ---Aquatic Toxicologist

By Bode Durojaiye. 

     The aquatic environment consists of two major types, which are the surface and sub-surface waters.

     The surface waters are the swamps, rivers, streams, lakes,
ponds, seas and oceans, while the sub-surface waters include soil water i.e. water in the soil attached to soil particles, and the
underground water tapped during the construction of boreholes and wells.

     The seas and oceans alone constitute 97.2 percent of the total
percentage of the aquatic environment.

     Also in the aquatic environment, there are three major habitats,
and these are fresh water habitat, estuarine habitat and the Marine habitat.

     However, the marine environment covers a little over 362 million square kilometers, about 71 percent of the total 510 million square kilometers of the total earth surface (forestry environment

     The seas and oceans alone constitute approximately two-thirds of the earth’s surface.

     What then are the resources in the aquatic environment, and how can the poverty gap be bridged with it?

     Olatunde Olubanjo Fawole, a Professor of Fisheries Biology and Aquatic Toxicology, is a Consultant to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), as well as Federal Ministries of Agriculture, Science and Technology.

     Since 1985, Prof. Fawole studies and research has been focused on the biology of economically important of fish species.

     Such aspect of the biology includes fish nutritional quantity,
growth, reproduction, population dynamics, water quality vis-à-vis
fish production and toxicology in fish culture.

     Consequently, in 1996, he was conferred with an award as
researcher of the year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Similarly, 1997, the New York Academy of Science chose Prof. Fawole as the researcher of the year.

     A former Head of the Pure and Applied Biology Department, Pre Degree Programme, currently Dean, Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Prof. Fawole delivered a lecture recently in Ogbomoso on utility values of resources in the aquatic environment.

     Prof. Fawole said there are several resources in the aquatic
environment, which include resources that cannot be used up completely and those that cannot regenerate themselves.

     He stated that besides the fact that fishes are high quality
food with great value in the diet because of high quality protein, a
lot of minerals and vitamins, there are some prominent families of
fish that are of great commercial value.

     “For instance, fishes belonging to the family of Tetraodontiage
produce a poison which is known to have a pain killing effect on human beings, and so the poison is extracted for pain killing drugs. Also some antibiotics are extracted from sponges which are said to be even stronger than penicillin. The body fluid of mollusks (snails and oysters) can be processed into medicine to combat virus diseases. Oil (edible oil) can be extracted from fish and whales, and these are veryrich in Vitamins especially vitamin D”.

     The FAO consultant also disclosed that shells of aquatic
mollusks can also be used in jewellery and home decoration.

     “Plants such as algae are also important resources in the water. Phytoplankton and sea weeds are being used for production and human consumption. Some sea phytoplankton is used in the production of ice-cream and jam, while aquatic Algae are also being used for cosmetics and synthetics chemicals. Some aquatic plants are used as fuel and fertilizer.

     What is more, some algae can also be used for the production of methane i.e burning or cooking gas”.

     Prof. Fawole explained that seabirds, especially when they occur in large quantities produce faeces that can be used as fertilizers, because it contains high quality phosphate.

     He enumerated other non-living resources of the aquatic
environment to include petroleum products (oil and gas), coal and
minerals –diamond, gold, tin, sulphur, iron-ore, common salt and

     According to him, “the aquatic environment has been proposed to become future cities. The earth surface has a limited capacity and with steady increase in the population of human beings, it is
envisaged that a possible avenue for man to accommodate the teeming population is water. In some parts of the world like U.S.A and Japan, floating cities are already established. The aquatic environment is therefore a major reservoir of man’s major resources, and man’s hope for the future. There is the need to study the environment, in order to manage it effectively and efficiently, rather than destroying it “.

     The FAO consultant however lamented that so far, a small
fraction of these resources are being extracted in Nigeria, adding
that “estimation reveals that fishing takes place only in 17.5 percent of the available water, which is less than 20 percent of the available fishery resources as been currently utilized.

     In his words, “if man can therefore rationally protect the
aquatic resources in the water, the level of poverty in the country,
and Africa in general, will be reduced, and man will have a brighter future”.

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