Apr 17 2011
Forming a northern arm of the Atlantic Ocean, the Baltic Sea is 1,000 miles long and 120 miles wide. The average depth is 180 feet, with the deepest part hitting 1,506 feet. The sea has about 5,000 miles of coastline.
This lovely sea is surrounded by white beaches, stark cliffs, huge forests, and cities dating back to medieval times. But, according to many sources, it is also the most polluted sea in the world.
The Baltic Sea is a heavily trafficked shipping route, and tons of chemical weapons and radioactive waste has been dumped into it since World War II. Much of this dumping was done by the Russians, although they continue to deny it. The Baltic Sea also receives millions of tons of untreated sewage from the 90 million inhabitants along its shores.
The sea is so polluted that advisories constantly warn against eating any fish caught from it, especially for pregnant women. But there may be hope yet. Nine countries in the region, including Finland, Poland, Russia, Germany, and Sweden (which has the longest Baltic Sea shoreline), have agreed to work together to clean up the sea by 2021.
The clean-up is not without politics: Russia has plans for a major gas line through the sea, and critics fear more environmental damage could result. But many are still hoping for the best, and the fact that the countries of the Baltic Sea are aware of the issue and are finally starting to work together is a positive sign.
- Seals Returning to Baltic Coast After 50 Year Hiatus (geteconow.com)
- Oldest Champagne Found In Baltic Sea (npr.org)
- Pipeline Construction Unearths Treasure Trove in Baltic Sea (abcnews.go.com)