Mercurial Relations: How Cultural Challenges Endanger Biodiversity and Public Health in the Caribbean

Authors: Russell Fielding*, University of the West Indies-Cave Hill
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Medical and Health Geography, Latin America
Keywords: Caribbean, whales, whaling, sharks, fishing, environmental health, communication, mercury, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, environmental policy, public health
Session Type: Paper
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Recent ecotoxicological research has discovered alarmingly high concentrations of environmental pollutants in the Caribbean marine food web. Among the most concerning of these pollutants is methylmercury. Owing to the principle of biomagnification, apex predators within the marine environment—such as cetaceans and sharks—attain the highest concentration of methylmercury; thus, human populations who rely on these organisms as food sources are most at risk. This paper discusses the challenges to effective cross-cultural communication exemplified by efforts to convey science into conservation and public health policy within an artisanal whaling and shark-fishing community in St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

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