Pollution in the Ocean

Nymira Sutton 3B

What is Ocean Pollution?

Oceans are the largest water bodies on the planet Earth. Over the last few decades, surplus human activities have severely affected the marine life on the Earth’s oceans. Ocean Pollution, also known as marine pollution, is the spreading of harmful substances such as oil, plastic, industrial and agricultural waste and chemical particles into the ocean.

Causes of Ocean Pollution

1. Sewage: Pollution can enter the ocean directly. Sewage or polluting substances flow through sewage, rivers, or drainage directly into the ocean. This is often how minerals and substances from mining camps find their way into the ocean. The release of other chemical nutrients into the ocean’s ecosystem leads to reductions in oxygen levels, the decay of plant life, a severe decline in the quality of the sea water itself. As a result, all levels of oceanic life, plants and animals, are highly affected.

2. Toxic Chemicals From Industries: Industrial and agricultural waste are another most common form of wastes that are directly discharged into the oceans, resulting in ocean pollution. The dumping of toxic liquids in the ocean directly affects the marine life as they are considered hazardous and secondly, they raise the temperature of the ocean, known as thermal pollution, as the temperature of these liquids is quite high. Animals and plants that cannot survive at higher temperatures eventually perish.

3. Land Runoff: Land runoff is another source of pollution in the ocean. This occurs when water infiltrates the soil to its maximum extent and the excess water from rain, flooding or melting flows over the land and into the ocean. Often times, this water picks up man-made, harmful contaminants that pollute the ocean, including fertilizers, petroleum, pesticides and other forms of soil contaminants. Fertilizers and waste from land animals and humans can be a huge detriment to the ocean by creating dead zones.

4. Large Scale Oil Spills: Ship pollution is a huge source of ocean pollution, the most devastating effect of which is oil spills. Crude oil lasts for years in the sea and is extremely toxic to marine life, often suffocating marine animals to death once it entraps them. Crude oil is also extremely difficult to clean up, unfortunately meaning that when it is split; it is usually there to stay.

Effects of Ocean Pollution

1. Effect of Toxic Wastes on Marine Animals: Oil spill is dangerous to marine life in several ways. The oil spilled in the ocean could get on to the gills and feathers of marine animals, which makes it difficult for them to move or fly properly or feed their children. The long term effect on marine life can include cancer, failure in the reproductive system, behavioral changes, and even death.

2. Disruption to the Cycle of Coral Reefs: Oil spill floats on the surface of water and prevents sunlight from reaching to marine plants and affects in the process of photosynthesis. Skin irritation, eye irritation, lung and liver problems can impact marine life over long period of time.

3: Depletes Oxygen Content in Water: Most of the debris in the ocean does not decompose and remain in the ocean for years. It uses oxygen as it degrades. As a result of this, oxygen levels go down. When oxygen levels go down, the chances of survival of marine animals like whales, turtles, sharks, dolphins, penguins for long time also goes down.

4: Failure in the Reproductive System of Sea Animals: Industrial and agricultural wastes include various poisonous chemicals that are considered hazardous for marine life. Chemicals from pesticides can accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals, leading to failure in their reproductive system.

5: Effect on Food Chain: Chemicals used in industries and agriculture get washed into the rivers and from there are carried into the oceans. These chemicals do not get dissolved and sink at the bottom of the ocean. Small animals ingest these chemicals and are later eaten by large animals, which then affects the whole food chain.

6. Affects Human Health: Animals from impacted food chain are then eaten by humans which affects their health as toxins from these contaminated animals gets deposited in the tissues of people and can lead to cancer, birth defects or long term health problems.

Ways to Save the Ocean

1. Mind Your Carbon Footprint and Reduce Energy Consumption

2. Make Safe, Sustainable Seafood Choices

3. Use Fewer Plastic Products

4. Help Take Care of the Beach

5. Don't Purchase Items That Exploit Marine Life

6. Be an Ocean-Friendly Pet Owner

7. Support Organizations Working to Protect the Ocean

8. Influence Change in Your Community

9. Travel the Ocean Responsibly

10. Educate Yourself About Oceans and Marine Life

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