What Is Ocean Pollution?

With each passing day, in fact, with each passing minute, ocean pollution is becoming an ever-increasing case of concern and a threat to the existence of life on planet Earth. Covering the major part of the surface of our planet, oceans are of primary importance to the health of all species and the planet. Ocean pollution is caused by toxic elements used and spread by humans. Every year, huge amounts of trash and other pollutants enter our ocean and endanger marine life and marine ecosystems. Mainly coming from the land, these pollutants are often eaten by animals.

Causes of Ocean Pollution

  • Runoff originating from sources like vehicles, septic tanks, farms, etc is one of the main factors contributing to ocean pollution. Chemicals accumulating on roads and highways flow along with rainwater on the ground and eventually reach the ocean.
  • The inflow of mineral and soil deposits is caused by Inland mining and that poses a threat to the marine ecosystems. The wind carries dust particles and pollutants to the ocean and also deposits plastic waste into the water.
  • Toxic wastes are released by manufacturing plants and they enter the ocean, eventually making their way along the food chain to larger species which are in turn consumed by humans.
  • Other contributing factors behind ocean pollution are plastic discharge and agricultural toxins. Millions of metric tons of nondegradable plastic trash have already accumulated in the world’s oceans and the figure is rising continuously. These include old fishing nets and others that injure wildlife by entangling them and restricting their movement, causing them to even starve.
  • Different types of pollutants are transported by rain into the water, especially carbon dioxide, by absorbing the excess of which, oceans are becoming more acidic.
  • Various types of pollutants are released by huge ships traveling in oceans, including oil, fuel, plastic, and others that are toxic to marine life.
  • Noise pollution caused by ships is very harmful to marine animals like dolphins and whales.

Effects of Ocean Pollution

Ocean pollution has widespread consequences which affect human life and marine life, alike, both directly and indirectly.
  • Sea animals are the direct victims of ocean pollution. The huge amount of oil that is released by ships into the ocean suffocates marine animals, preventing them from flying and feeding their young. Even if the animals survive the presence of oil in the water, they may still suffer from cancer and become unable to reproduce.
  • Contaminants can also accumulate on seafood, which makes it harmful for humans to consume.
  • Marine plants require nitrogen and phosphorus to grow, but an excess of these caused by ocean pollution can cause algal blooms, which results in algae overriding the ecosystem. These organisms eventually start to decompose which depletes oxygen making the area a dead zone since marine life cannot sustain itself in that environment.
  • Spoilage and waste in the water can be lethal to all kinds of marine life. People coming in contact with waste materials and broken parts of ships, discarded cans, and other trash can be easily harmed.
  • Polluted beaches also affect human health.
  • Ships might find it difficult to navigate in water filled with debris.

How To Prevent Ocean Pollution

To stop Ocean Pollution, we need to take a few steps.

  1. Instead of chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers should be used.
  2. Reusable bottles and utensils should be preferred over throw-away plastic materials which pollute the ocean.
  3. The beaches should be kept clean and trash should be disposed of properly so that they don’t find their way into the ocean.
  4. Individual use of single-use plastics for example plastic bags, water bottles, etc that are used only once should be reduced. Instead, reusable versions of those products should be used.
  5. People should be made aware of the dangers and consequences of ocean pollution.

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