Mama Ray, Little Ray and 3 fish share concerns in an image from The Amazing Flight of Little Ray displayed at 50% of viewport width.
June 2021 by Terry Verduin


Little Ray thought his world quite bland,
the same old water, the same old sand.
He watched birds take off and fly
and thought to himself, why can't I?
(The Amazing Flight of Little Ray)

Failure to fix the Clean Water Act, which currently offers no universal benefit, may result in no fish, no fishing and the total loss of ocean secrets to water pollution problems.

Water Matters

Earth Form? The USGS reports about 71 percent of Earth is water-covered. Oceans hold over 96 percent of this water. Water keeps moving and changing form by evaporation, precipitation, condensation, freezing or melting.

Oceans and Seas? NASA reports over one-third of the total human population lives within 100 km (60 miles) of an oceanic coast. More people are familiar with the view of the ocean from the beach than from space.

Lakes and Rivers? A NCBI, U.S. National Library of Medicine study reports over 50% of the world's population lives within walking distance of a freshwater body. People in Australia, Asia, and Europe live the closest.

Inside Job

Life Form? About 75 percent of the weight of an adult animal or human and about 90 percent of a newborn is water. It is found in both inside and outside of every living cell. A plant can consist of 95% water.

Red Alert? People argue the merits of rich water. They need to raise concerns about the environmental threats faced by ocean life. Most of the water on earth is filthy. Little Ray advocates for prompt corrective action.

Right or Commodity? The right to water is critical to ensure an adequate standard of living, free of water-borne diseases. Because it is costly to maintain a clean water supply, rarely is it made available free of charge.

What Is Water?

Pure Poetry? Water is fluid and flowing. It circulates, cushions, lubricates, maintains, purifies, renews, saturates, sustains, transforms and transports. The transparent, odorless liquid is critical for all life on earth.

Pure Water? Water naturally contains trace amounts of minerals like magnesium, calcium, sodium and zinc. These boost nutritional intake. Ultra-pure water serves industry. If ingested, it strips minerals from bodies.

Health Effects? The mineral content of saline water has health effects. Companies pump and evaporate vast amounts of salt and minerals, such as magnesium, from these waters, which have high salt concentrations.

Salty Oceans, Seas or Lakes

Salty Seas? The oceans are called seas. However, not all seas are salty. The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake. No fish, birds or plants can survive in the Dead Sea. Some microbial life tolerates its high-saline environment.

Water Shoes? The salt lining of some extreme saline bottoms is sharp and abrasive. It is impossible to walk on top of this water. Walking into it without protective footwear can result in severe injury.

One & Only? Other well-known, high-saline water bodies include Lake Assal in Djibouti, Garabogazköl lagoon in the Caspian Sea, some lakes of McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica and the Great Salt Lake in the U.S.

Salt Poisoning

Sink or Swim? High salt content creates buoyancy. Flipping face-down forces ingestion of this deadly fluid, leading to drownings in the Dead Sea. It contains asphalt used by ancient Egyptians in mummification.

Killer Salts? Many freshwater fish die of dehydration when placed in saltwater. Water flows out. In turn, saltwater fish in freshwater may swell up and die as the surrounding water flows into their bodies.

Euryhaline Fish? These fish tolerate a wide range of salinity. They can survive in both saltwater and freshwater and may migrate between fresh and salt waters at various phases in their life-cycle.

Keeping Plans Open

Inner Circles? Few freshwater plants or animals survive in high-saline waters. Available oxygen decreases as salinity increases. Sea dwelling animals suffocate. Salt draws water from plants, dehydrating them.

Diversion? Water loss due to farming, industry and droughts impacts both saline and freshwater environments. Human activity boosts salt concentrations in freshwaters around the world, with deadly effects.

Deep Freeze? Fresh and salt water surfaces freeze. The bottoms of these water environments rarely freeze. For the most part, fish comfortably roam beneath the icy surface. Anglers view this as a fishing opportunity.

Ice Water

Ice Fishing? Frozen lakes and ponds commonly are fished. The Arctic Ocean should be off limits to commercial fishing. An international agreement was signed to allow for the development of conservation measures.

Regulated? Canada, China, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, the European Union and the United States of America are signatories. The harsh environment comes with its own limits.

Specialized? Ice anglers need the right travel vehicles, ice testing and drilling equipment, fishing gear, bait, dress and shelter for the elements. Only the prepared may survive this dangerous outdoor pastime.

Basic Instinct

Blown Away? When faced with adverse conditions, like desiccation and freezing, some invertebrates and plants change physiological state. Metabolic activities shut down. Reproduction, development and repair cease.

Bucket List? Dredging-is digging to open navigation passages, extract minerals or prepare building sites. It stirs up contaminants. Sand scooped from rivers and oceans to dump on beaches kills animals in and under it.

Heating Up? Climate cycles with natural variations in sun, wind and volcanic activity. Unnatural climate changes provoked by transportation, manufacturing and communications need immediate attention.

Water Pollution Problems

Regifting? Nobody is immune to harmful food effects produced by toxic reservoirs. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, fever, headache, nausea, numbness or vomiting should give incentive to stop poisoning this world.

Triple Threat? Toxic liquid, grease and sewage effluent, or discharges, from vessels, oil rigs and offshore construction sites into ocean habitats reduce oxygen and water quality. Accompanying waves and jets disrupt water flow.

City Slickers? Doing laundry carries noxious fibers outdoors. These additives combine with chemical runoff from agriculture, industry, home septic tanks, lawns and storm drains. Water becomes toxic to living beings.

Manifest Symptoms

An Itch? Fish Flashing describes fish scratching against aquarium or fish farm tank walls or objects to relieve skin infection suffering. It is observed in the wild, the origin of many captive pet fish.

Blue Yonder? Oxygen concentrates at water surfaces. Fish coming up and gasping for air reflect distress. Their respiratory systems are more efficient than those of mammals, resulting in greater toxic intake.

Bad Vibes? Sick fish make disoriented movements while floating and gasping for surface oxygen. With bulging eyes, bloated bodies, purple gills, clamped fins and hemorrhaging or skin lesions, they stop eating.

Good Medicine?

Fresh Takes? Rays and sharks are on menus. Eating their meat is unlikely to fight infections. Fish-based products and supplements contain plastic micro-beads as toxic spice. They leach carcinogens into blood and tissues.

Scenic Route? Fish and other ocean life dine on plastics. They are served for dinner containing undigested plastic waste. Foreign seafood reaches the U.S. and elsewhere untested for any contaminating substances.

Wait and See? Plastic pollutants never disappear. They combine into strangulating snares. Consumed toxins within them destroy life from the inside. Dissolved water pollution breaks up animal pairs.

Bad Medicine?

Folk Medicine? Shark liver oil to fight respiratory, skin, immune system disorders and cancer radiation sickness has gastrointestinal and circulatory system risks. The mercury neurotoxin levels may cause dementia.

Beauty Treatment? Lumps should serve as reminders. Shark oil in cosmetics, anti-aging products, skin cleansers and sunscreens can clog pores and cause acne. Allergic reactions are more common than bites.

Hot Property? Radioactive waste has a lovely, but unhealthy glow. Radioactive effluent travels water currents. High-level radiation energy in transit can lead to cancer, birth defects and cellular damage.

Missing Pieces

All the Frills? Feather-like gills provide broad surface areas for oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. Most fish have protective gill covers. These offer no barrier to harmful, dissolved toxins. Rays and sharks have none.

Cleaning Up? Wastewater treatment plants cannot remove micro-plastic pollutants. Hazardous rushes of water discharge from these plants also go against sound environmental goals. Some countries are considering bans.

Soapbox? Costs come with testing, cleaning and finding alternatives. Efforts to save world waters include restoration of damaged areas. The goal is to reverse problematic conditions and restore aquatic life quality.

Down the Hatch

Home Sweet Home? Water pollution travels and carries diseases. The CDC Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases protects against these illnesses. Cholera is a widely-known example.

Squirming, Yet? Wild fish are infected with disease-causing worms. Eating raw, unprocessed local, wild fish also is ill advised. Freezing kills nematodes. These worms remain in the food. Farm-raised fish may be worm-free.

Free Range? Disease-causing pathogens infect animals. Pests and germs attach themselves to fish living within aquariums or in the wild. These water-borne bacteria, parasites and viruses can be hard to exterminate.

No Fish

Dynamite? Intense fishery operations make catches with long lines or nets. Makeshift FAD and illegal explosives also are used to simplify fishing. These contribute to destruction of the ecosystem and marine life.

Still Life? Catch and release kills. Taking time to photograph a trophy fish prolongs its painful death. If hooks and lines aren't removed, dangling tackle may catch on objects, causing deadly entanglements and infections.

Cooling Down? Putting captured fish in cold water, even temporarily can be deadly. The protective mucous coating is weakened or removed by this abrupt change, rendering these fish vulnerable to disease and harm.

Fighting Fish

Ritualistic? Remoras, called “shark suckers” or “sucker fish”, vacuum food from the skin and teeth of sharks. Pilot fish dine on falling scraps. Distressed pilot fish spend weeks chasing trawler vessels when their hosts are caught.

Passionate? Hooked or netted rays put up fights. Large ones can break away with hook and line. The hook can be removed from captives without getting stung. Teamwork may be needed to hold the head and block the tail.

Intentional Harm? Anglers targeting flashes of silver may pull up “big wings”. Disappointment or fright should not result in cruel, cold-blooded murder. These amazing fish meaningfully serve the environment.

Dead Fish

Exploding Fish? Deep sea fish die with changes in pressure and temperature during rapid ascent on hook and line. High water pressure in deep waters keeps their inside organs from popping out and distorting their bodies.

Food Chain? Sharks do not merely feed underlings in the food chain. They use skill, strength and follow rules to remove weak and ailing animals. These competitive players are indicators of and contributors to aquatic health.

Clean Habitat? Bringing an end to dirty water also could add years to human life. Jellyfish, lobsters and turtles defy the aging process. Filth may annihilate these marine longevity keys before their secrets are studied.

Gambling Odds

Close Look? Local health departments monitor bacteria levels in water. Alerts and bans are issued for high levels of these hazardous microorganisms. No rapid solution has yet been found for climate change problems.

On the Edge? Exposure to foul water and overfishing ranks grouper, swordfish, sawfish and tuna among the most endangered ocean fish. Grasses and coral providing plentiful meals and protective habitats also are dying.

Proven Results? During COVID-19 lock-downs, aquatic recreation slowed. Waters of the world showed signs of pollution reduction. How improvements can be sustained without harming economic activity is unclear.


Evolving? Sharks span across 400 million years. Warmer temperatures are forcing these survivors to migrate. Resettlement means new hunting approaches, new prey and new regions. The changes may cause mutations.

Life and Death Matter? Sponges and coral live thousands of years. Greenland sharks may survive 400 years. Turtles, mussels, mollusks, whales and some bony fish species live hundreds of years. Filth shortens lives.

Elite? Modern humans are relative newcomers, having appeared only about 500,000 years ago. Some animals may outlive people. Unfortunate economic systems and practices make the planet increasingly inhospitable to life.

Loss of Ocean Secrets

Novel Filtration? Manta rays feed using a non-clogging filtration mechanism, per scientists Raj V. Divi, James A. Strother and E. W. Misty Paig-Tran. The design could improve manufactured systems.

Ocean Life Secrets? Management of water pollution and penalties to stop depletion of stock could bring medical benefit to humankind. Studies are under way to learn if sharks' immune systems offer cancer resistance.

Future Proof? Further study is needed to understand for what illnesses and infirmities shark components may be effective. More time is needed to develop manufactured equivalents. Sharks may be running out of time.

Living Laboratories

Bathed in Beauty? Cure of deadly, communicable reactions to microbial invasion and multiplication may reside within sea-dwellers. NSU researchers found sharks and rays have advanced wound-healing abilities.

New Look? Retired attorney Terry Verduin, pen name V. R. Duin, graduated from NSU College of Law. As complications surface with drugs used to treat bacterial infections, sharks could lead to pharmaceutical advances.

Net Results? Genes are made of DNA the necessary code to build and maintain all organisms. DNA repair processes identify and corrects damage to cells. DNA repair is under study for cancer cures.

Worth Saving

Tool Kit? NSU found Sharks Show Novel Changes in Their Immune Cancer-Related Genes. Two genes have counterparts lending powerful hope for prevention or cure of the deeply-rooted cancers plaguing humanity.

Hide and Seek? Sharks develop cancer, but it is rare for them. Tumors secrete angiogenin. It feeds and facilitates tumor growth and cell invasion. Dr. Robert Langer of MIT found “anti-tumor potential in shark cartilage”.

Beneath the Surface? MIT studies reveal an angiogenin inhibitor in shark cartilage. This blocks the formation of new blood vessels, causing tumors to starve or suffocate in their own waste products.

Sound Familiar?

On the Loose? Zoonoses are diseases transferred to humans from animals. These illnesses may have no cure. Even without lacerations, dead, diseased or live fish can transmit detrimental infective agents during handling.

Wakeup Call? Wildlife is blamed for causing such pandemics as HIV and Ebola. Live and dead wild animals sold for human consumption are suspected sources of the MERS, SARS and COVID-19 corona viruses.

Crush the Climb! Health risks travel, spreading harm. Without governance and punishment for law breakers, universal efforts against overfishing and loss of habitat will fail. Clashes of prevailing laws add uncertainty.

Cut Corners?

License Help? Folks, who refuse to put away their rods, should learn the fishing license requirements in their location. Different sovereign organizations set their own fees, expiration dates, rules and regulations.

Save the Planet? License fees help fund conservation efforts, fish restoration programs, habitat protections and fishing education initiatives. Anglers fishing in private ponds need no license, but they can make donations.

Wide Angle? Plant and animal populations are endangered. Losses caused by pollution, climate change or overfishing affect commercial and economic activity, resulting in lost jobs and damage to the food chain.

No Universal Benefit

Divine Intervention? The CWA passed in 1972 to prevent discharges of pollutants into interstate navigable water used for trade and travel. Conflict arose with its expansion to isolated ponds, wetlands and dry desert ditches.

Curves Ahead? Navigable water is vague. Abusive enforcement of zealous interpretations means prosecution, prison time and bankrupting fines for remote, unpermitted discharges. Permitting may take 2 years and $250,000.

Weaves of Green? Terms of the CWA must be defined for fairness, due process and justice in expansion and enforcement. CWA interpretations must be reliable for companies and individuals in the United States.

Fix the Clean Water Act

Ditch It? Trump's Administration reduced CWA boundaries. Protection, restoration and maintenance of expansive rain-produced wetlands and streams lost environmental protections. There is a new administration.

Step-by-Step? The current Biden administration promises to protect natural lands and waters. New wildlife sanctuaries, strengthened permitting requirements and increased costs for restoration programs are planned.

Tide Effects? Enforcement of the CWA is intended to limit systemic damage caused by developers and industries. Litigation over present administrative change puts the onus on business to weigh the risks of potential penalties.

International Waters

Water Convention? The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes works toward the sustainable use of trans-boundary water resources by UN member states.

The Protocol? The Protocol on Water and Health aspires to protect human health through water management and water-related disease reduction in the pan-European region. UNECEF and WHO-Europe are involved.

Water Wars? Water shortages and a lack of appropriate water sanitation for the populations may eventually give rise to a full-fledged multilateral South Asian agreement on integrated water resource management.

Natural Advocates

Luminaries? Mama Ray and her young son are restless. Their minds are distracted by the presence of life-threatening liquid, solid, gas, plasma and radiation hazards. Plastic pollutants rank among the worst of problems.

Plastic Rain? Plastic particles are not just in water. Per Janice Brahney of Utah State University, “they just break down into smaller and smaller fibers, and this allows them to be transported through the atmosphere.”

Be Moved? Do-it-yourself responsibility makes a difference. Items carried away, reused, recycled or re-purposed lighten environmental footprints. The effects are not simply local. Waves, winds and sea life add locomotion.