WWII shipwreck still polluting North Sea ocean floor 80 years after going down

WWII shipwreck still polluting North Sea ocean floor 80 years after going down

The V-1302 John Mahn is currently in the Belgian side of North Sea and initially served as a German fishing trawler.

According to a research, a World War II shipwreck is still polluting the marine microbiology in the North Sea. The ship is leaking explosives and other toxic elements into the ocean floor more than 80 years after it was sunk. The new research was published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

“The general public is often quite interested in shipwrecks because of their historical value, but the potential environmental impact of these wrecks is often overlooked,” study author Josefien Van Landuyt, a doctoral candidate, bioengineer and microbiologist at Ghent University in Belgium, was quotes as saying by CNN.

WWII shipwreck still polluting North Sea ocean floor 80 years after going down
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The V-1302 John Mahn is currently in the Belgian side of North Sea and initially served as a German fishing trawler. During World War II, it was requisitioned by the German Navy to serve as a patrol boat. The ship was attacked on February 12, 1942 by six British Royal Air Force Hawker Hurricane aircraft patrolling the Belgian coast.

It was also hit by bombs, leading it to sink and killing 11 sailors. The cargo included munitions and coal which also went down along with the boat, and are now seeping into the sea. Heavy metals such as nickel, copper and arsenic and explosive compounds, along with hydrocarbons, coal and crude oil, were also found.

A study was conducted into the shipwrecks located across the North Sea bed as part of the North Sea Wrecks project. It found that across the world’s oceans, shipwrecks from both world wars have anywhere between 2.5 million and 20.4 million metric tons of petroleum products. The researchers are hopeful that the authorities will take the matter seriously and consider ways to save the ecosystem.

Van Landuyt also said that shipwrecks become more and more dangerous to the environment over time as corrosion opens up enclosed spaces.

“While wrecks can function as artificial reefs and have tremendous human story-telling value, we should not forget that they can be dangerous, human-made objects which were unintentionally introduced into a natural environment,” Van Landuyt said. “Today, new shipwrecks are removed for this exact reason.”

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