Ocean pollution is a serious concern for the environment. Human activity is destroying the oceans. Every type of pollution affects ocean health and the unique plants and animals that live there. Ocean pollution also affects us humans because we eat fish and other marine life. Toxic substances that wash ashore can destroy beaches. The main types of pollution are air pollution, acid rain, pesticides, oil spills, dumping, sewage, and global warming.
The health of the ocean is something we need to be concerned about. “The ocean creates more than half of our oxygen. The Ocean has already absorbed more than 80% of the heat added to the climate system and around 33% of the carbon dioxide emitted by humans.” (State of the Ocean) The climate change on top of other sources of pollution are putting a serious strain on our oceans. Our oceans are vital to human survival and survival of marine life. The ocean provides food, transportation, drinking water, and is home to millions, if not billions, of plants and animal species. We need to take better care of it.
According to a study done by IPSO (International Programme on the State of the Ocean), the health of the oceans is “declining fast.” The study found that the ocean is not deteriorating because of one issue alone, but a mixture of several. For example, “Coral reefs are suffering from the higher temperatures and the effects of acidification while also being weakened by bad fishing practices, pollution, siltation and toxic algal blooms.” (BBC) The ocean is being heated by climate change on top of everything else.
The first cause of pollution is oil. “Products used for fuel are mined from below the ocean surface. Oil spills are usually caused by ships carrying oil or accidental leakage from offshore drills. Factories can also cause oil leakage. The oil spill is spread out by the water currents and oceanic winds. The spill can spread over thousands of miles. The BP oil spill in 2010 spilled an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It was estimated the total spill of oil had reached 3,850 square miles. Thousands of types of marine life were affected by this oil spill.” (All Recycling Facts)
“Oil can cause the marine life to drown. The thick oil layer sticks to their bodies, which affects their ability to move and escape. The oil can also kill them by ingestion or suffocation. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6,814 marine animals were found dead as a result of the BP oil spill.” (All Recycling Facts)
“The oil that floats on the surface of the water blocks out sunlight and prevents oxygen from dissolving in the water. Marine plants in the water are unable to photosynthesize and produce oxygen. Marine life in the water beneath the oil lose access to oxygen and suffocate to death. The decay of dead matter in the water further consumes any oxygen that is left. This causes dead zones. It is estimated that about 706 million gallons of waste oil enter the ocean each year.” (All Recycling Facts)
The second cause of pollution is trash and industrial waste. Trash is dumped from ships and offshore drilling rigs into the sea. Most of these chemicals are toxic to marine life. Plastics that end up in the sea can stay there for several years. A large number of marine life die each year from swallowing or becoming trapped in trash.
“Dumping in the ocean was acceptable in the past. Today, dumping is restricted. However, the past dumping has forever affected the current health of our oceans. The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch is known as the world’s largest trash dump in the ocean. The patch stretches from Hawaii to Japan. Marine animals that mistake the plastics as food ingest them, but end up suffocating on the particles or die because they cannot swallow them.” (All Recycling Facts)
The third cause of pollution is sewage. “Animal waste and human wastewater from toilets and household activities in coastal communities often go directly into