Effect of Pollution on Marine Life

how pollution affects marine life in the sea

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A graph on the Sources and Effects of Marine Pollution

On February 2008 researchers found that the introduction of toxins into the environment and oceans, affected every square mile of ocean on the earth and strongly impacted roughly 40 % of marine ecosystems. Marine mammals are having dramatic increases in more sever illnesses, like digestive system problems, and nervous problems, liver disease, endocrine system damage, reproductive malformations, and growth and development issues. Worse yet is the increasing growth in cancer cases. Many scientists around the world believe these illnesses are being caused by contamination of the ocean with man-made toxic chemicals that are released through drainage into the ocean.

Effects of plastic pollution on sea turtles

Turtles can get stuck in lost or thrown away plastic fishing gear and become injured or even drowned. Many sea turtles mistake floating debris for food and become at risk for intestional compaction, digestive suppression and tearing. Leatherback turtles eat floating plastic bags mistaking them for jellyfish. Other debris like plastic rings can cut, maim and even cut off limbs causing sever and lethal infections.

Effects of Oil Pollution on Marine Wildlife

Animals that are coated by even minor amounts of oil may be rendered unable to swim or fly correctly. Oil can also complicate their ability to maintain their body temperature, reproduce, or even feed. Oil can also cover beaches and other necessary habitats making it difficult for the animals to find unaffected nesting, food and even resting places. Young marine mammals like sea turtles can be affected more than other creatures because they have a weaker and underdeveloped immune systems.

Embryos of fish are very vulnerable to the exposure to oil even at super low concentrations of less than one per billion. Therefore, even traces of oil at levels considered safe for wildlife can still cause severe damage to fish and other marine creatures. Animals can become coated in oil of ingest it and die quickly. Massive numbers of animals were immediately killed during the Exxon Valdez oil spill which included 2,800 sea otters, 250,000 sea birds, and 300 harbor seals. Oil pollution can also have other effects like eye and liver damage and irritation to the skin. These effects can reduce the survival rates of animals by compromising their ability to find food, shelter,mate,and avoid predators. Direct contact with oil can make marine wildlife sick for years.

Oil also affects coral reefs that provide a habitat for many creatures, oil causes reduced photosynthesis, reproduction, and growth, and can even kill the reef. Coral larvae are extremely sensitive to the toxic effects of oil.

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The Effects of Water Pollution on Marine Life

A list of common toxic metals

  • aluminum
  • arsenic
  • cadmium
  • chromium
  • cobalt
  • copper
  • iron
  • lead
  • molybdenum
  • nickel
  • selenium
  • silver
  • tin
  • zin

Effects of Toxic Pollution to Marine Life

  • Behavior abnormalities
  • Cancer
  • Birth defects
  • Death
  • Lesions
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Other long term health problems
The Effects of Water Pollution on Marine Animals

Marine Plastic Pollution Facts

  1. 80% of marine pollution comes from trash and debris from urban runoff.
  2. Packaging and food containers are the largest components of marine debris. In 1997 plastic pieces outnumber plankton on the ocean surface 6:1.
  3. Plastic pollution in the ocean has impacted at least 267 species worldwide, 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species, and 43% of all marine mammal species.
  4. These impacts include fatalities as a result from starvation, ingestion, infection, suffocation, entanglement and drowning