The ocean is the lifeline of planet earth, Major part of the earth is covered with water. Even after ocean pollution is a growing problem of today’s world. Our ocean is being flooded with plastic and chemical waste. Each year, billions of tonnes of plastic trash and other pollutants enter the ocean. Some of the debris ends up on our beaches, washed in with the waves and tides, and other is eaten by marine animals that mistake it for food.
Primary Causes of Ocean Pollution
Humans are the main cause of pollution on land as well as in ocean. Certainly, pollution begins on land and washed out through ocean. It has devastating impact on marine lives and environment. Here are some of the major causes of marine pollution:
- Runoff from land into the ocean comes from both urban and agricultural areas also referred to as non-point source pollution.
- Chemicals evacuated on roads and highways flow over and under the ground with rainwater having harmful particulates such as pesticides, fertilizers, and carbon-nitrogen eventually reaching the ocean.
- It can originate from several sources such as vehicles, septic tanks, and farms. These travel through rivers and estuaries, making soil a real threat to marine ecosystems. Runoff can even smother marine plants and coral reefs.
- Toxic waste, containing mercury, generally released by manufacturing plants enters the ocean and ultimately to the food chain. Agricultural toxins cause direct biological hazards and due to which ocean temperature is increasing leading to global warming.
- Plastic waste has become a crisis these days. According to studies, around 150 million metric tons of plastic waste, which could not degrade easily, lies in the world’s oceans’ bed. Discarded fishing nets, plastic bottles, polythene bags, etc can entangle marine lives. It will restrict their movement, injury, or even starving them to death.
- Ships are the major cause of ocean pollution as they release large amounts of oil every year. Not only oil, but there are also many toxic pollutants released by ships like discharge fuel, plastic, and human waste.
- Crude oil is the most impure form of oil that can not be easily cleaned up. It’s toxic, suffocating, and deadly to marine life.
- Most of the marine animals communicate with echolocation like whales and dolphins. Ships cause noise pollution, disturbing the balance of life for marine animals
- Atmospheric pollution, which refers to objects carried by the wind to the ocean, is a big problem. Items such as plastic bags and styrofoam containers become suspended in the water and don’t decompose.
- The ocean floor is a valuable source of gold, silver, copper, and zinc, but mining under the sea is a major source of pollution. Sulfide deposits created when these substances are drilled might have environmental impacts. Material leaks and corrosion of equipment only exacerbate the problem.
Effects of Ocean Pollution on the Marine Life and Environment
The overabundance of pollution has a variety of consequences that could never be reversed. Some of them are discussed as follows:
- The excess amount of nitrogen and phosphorous in the ocean causes the depletion of oxygen levels. High concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous can cause algal blooms which means algae invade the ecosystem. As a result, these organisms start to sink and decompose, the area becomes a dead zone because marine life cannot survive in that environment. Those can swim, leave that dead zone, and other species that cannot move dies off.
- Any kind of debris in the water is hazardous, whether it is chemical or not. It can kill all kinds of marine life. Discarded metal cans and plastic, broken glass, fishing gear, and parts of ships can harm animals who come into contact with them.
- Once the smallest organisms consume pollutants, their predators consume them. Plastics, garbage, heavy metals, and chemicals make their way up the food chain
- Oil covering the feathers of birds and the gills of fish. Consumption of toxic substances stored in the fatty tissues of fish
- When the oil is spilled into the ocean, it sits on the water surface and keeps the sunlight from getting to marine plants affecting the photosynthesis process. Over a long period of time, many things can impact marine life including liver and lung problems, eye irritation, and skin irritation.
- Plastic, which is a petroleum product, also contributes to global warming. If plastic waste is incinerated, it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby increasing carbon emissions.
- Plastic waste damages the aesthetic value of tourist destinations, leading to decreased tourism-related incomes and increased economic costs related to the cleaning and maintenance of the place
- Greenhouse gases are causing climate change and also disastrous effects on the ocean. Oceans are absorbing carbon dioxide and becoming more acidic leading to the death of millions of aquatic species.
Top 10 Ways to Prevent Ocean Pollution
Earth is like a home that we need to take care of. We should take precautions to control any damage to the planet. Ocean pollution becomes a big problem to tackle. It affects every aspect of life whether you live near the ocean or far away from the ocean. Here are some preventive solutions for ocean pollution:
1. Refuse single-use plastic
The easiest and most direct way that you can get started is by reducing your own use of single-use plastics. Single-use plastics include plastic bags, water bottles, straws, cups, utensils, dry cleaning bags, take-out containersSay no to straws, lids, plastic bags, and plastic takeaway containers. Carry your own utensils, reusable bags, water bottles, straws and wooden spork and avoid using single-use plastic.
2. Conserve water
Conserve water as much as possible. Contaminating water with pollutants like oils and chemicals directly affect ocean. Do not throw any chemical waste or hazardous products into rivers or drainage.
3. Save energy
Use energy-saving appliances at home. Replace traditional lights with LED lights to save energy. Here are some efficient ways to save energy.
4. Plastic-free dine-in
Review restaurants and cafes and recognize them when they avoid straws and plastic packaging and let them know you want them to do better when they don’t.
5. Initiate or join beach cleanup programs
Go for beach cleaning programs to remove plastics from the ocean and prevent them from getting there in the first place on your local beach or waterway. This is one of the most direct and rewarding ways to fight ocean plastic pollution. You can go to the nearby beach or river and collect plastic waste on your own or with friends or family
6. Shop from local Market
Tell your local supermarket that you won’t buy produce wrapped in plastic. Purchase loose fruits and vegetables or shop at the farmer’s market.
7. Support Plastic bans
Municipal departments in every country around the world have enacted bans on single use plastic bags, takeout containers, and bottles. You should support the adoption of such policies in your country and follow the instructions around your neighborhood.
8. Recycle Responsibly
Always try to recycle the single-use plastic in a proper facility. At present, only 9% of plastic is recycling worldwide. Recycling helps keep plastics out of the ocean and reduces the amount of plastic washing away into ocean. Follow the three rules of recycling reduce, reuse and recycle. Whenever you see plastic around, collect it and try to recycle it if possible or put it in the trash can.
9. Spread the word
Talk trash with your friends, family, and colleagues! Share views with them and show them photos and videos about plastic pollution on social media to help spread awareness about this global problem.
10. Avoid chemical-based Sunscreen
When you are out in the sun and nearby the ocean, try not to use chemical-based sunscreen. Rather use a natural sunscreen that will not affect the ocean. Chemical based sunscreen cause the death of the coral reefs due to ocean bleaching