Pollution is a well-known and commonly talked about topic, especially in politics, and when it’s in reference to places that we can clearly see (such as cities, the sides of highways, or forests), we can gage at how serious the situation is. However, the ocean is expansive and just as mysterious to humanity as space is; after all, eighty percent of the ocean still remains undiscovered. That’s a massive portion of our planet that is threatened by pollution just as much as the other ecosystems on Earth.
Unfortunately, the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is accurate, and the troubles affecting the ocean have often been overlooked; before we knew better, people assumed that the ocean was so large and deep that dumping trash and litter into it would have minimal consequences at best. Though we know better now, the ocean still suffers the consequences of our past and current mistakes.
To put a stop to ocean pollution, the first step is to become knowledgeable on the subject. We may know now that our actions negatively affect our environment, but sometimes knowing the simple truth of this matter will get people to get into gear and start trying to make a difference.
- The most common pollutant found in the ocean is plastic. Plastic is a harmful substance that doesn’t break down easily, and marine animals often mistake it for food or get caught in it. Plastic bags, for example, can resemble jellyfish or algae, which puts sea turtles at high risk of eating it since both of those are part of their diet.
- Over a million seabirds are killed by pollution each year, as well as three hundred thousand dolphins and porpoises and one hundred thousand sea mammals. This is because they get tangled in discarded fishing nets and other such items.
- In the Pacific Ocean, there is an island of trash that’s twice the size of Texas. This is thanks to the North Pacific Gyre located off the coast of California—it’s considered the largest oceanic garbage site in the world. The number of floating plastic pieces there outnumbers the total amount of marine life six-to-one in the immediate area.
- Sewage that finds its way into the ocean leads to the decomposition of organic matter, which then changes the area’s biodiversity. The ecosystem may not be entirely destroyed, but the sewage alone drastically changes it negatively.
- Marine life isn’t the only one in danger because of ocean pollution. People can become contaminated just as easily by eating contaminated seafood. This can lead to the development of serious health problems, including cancer and a damaged immune system.