The ocean is a beautiful thing. It’s the perfect place to go for some time out from life’s hectic pace and just enjoy your surroundings. And it’s not all that difficult to do, either! Just find yourself a nice sandy beach (or if you’re feeling adventurous, an island!) and take in the sights with your toes buried in the sand and waves crashing at your feet. But what if I told you that there was more plastic than fish in our oceans? What if I said we were filling up our beaches with trash as people sit back and watch? That would make the ocean seem less inviting wouldn’t it? Now imagine how much worse this must be for those living near or on these coasts who depend on fishing as their food source.
We’re not drowning in plastic, but we are choking on it. Plastic pollution is a real problem that needs to be addressed and fixed- now. The first step to solving the issue is acknowledging its existence and understanding how big of an impact it has on our world. This blog post explores the causes, effects, and solutions to this growing global crisis. Here’s what you need to know about ocean plastics: -What they are? What caused them? How can I help?
Why we need a healthy ocean
Appearing like gigantic blue marbles, oceans are the largest water reservoir, covering 71% of the globe. The air we breathe, the oxygen we inhale, the heat vital to keep us warm, everything comes from oceans. Oceans prevent the earth from getting too hot or too cold by circulating heat, making it inhabitable. Besides these benefits, the vastness of the ocean integrates an immense diversity of animals and plants. From tiny organisms to large blue whales, oceans are home to millions of creatures.
Plastic ocean pollution facts and solutions
However, over the past few years, human activities have smothered the oceans with piles of trash and plastic. Only Americans are generating 10.5million tons of plastic every year. Out of this, only 1 to 2% is recycled while the remaining goes to oceans. Every year humans are dumping more than 8 million tons of plastic into oceans. More than 70% of this plastic goes to the bottom of the water, where tiny creatures forming the food web base reside.
Unfortunately, plastic does not go away; instead, it starts splitting into smaller pieces. With time, these fragments absorb organic pollutants and sink in the marine bottom, waiting to be ingested by animals. These poison integrating chunks are no less dangerous than time bombs. Whenever marine animals, including fish, turtles, and mammals, get entangled by these pieces, they immediately die following the suffocation.
Meanwhile, some of the plastic fragments are taken in by marine creatures, thus entering the food chain. When humans consume seafood, they fall prey to these toxic chemicals. Marine pollution has become one of the major issues the world is facing today. According to research, water pollution has impacted more than 267 species, including 44% sea birds,86% turtles, and 43% of marine mammals.
In 2010, a California grey whale was found dead on the shores of the Puget Sound. The whale’s stomach examination indicated the presence of a small towel, duct tape, surgical gloves, a golf ball, and more than 20 plastic bags.
Recent research indicated that marine pollution is severely affecting the turtle’s population worldwide. More turtles are suffering from suffocation after ingesting pollutants. Among the entire turtle population, young ones are more vulnerable to eat debris as they aren’t as selective as their elders.
Apart from fish and turtles, seabirds are another victim of plastic debris. Seabirds that feed on the ocean surface also carry food for their chicks. A study indicated that almost 98% of chick samples were detected with plastic debris.
Conclusion to Plastic ocean pollution facts and solutions
Unfortunately, humans contribute the majority of these deadly pollutants, which are imposing serious threats to marine organisms. So, being a major contributor to marine pollution, our responsibility is to protect our marine environment and unique creatures.
How do we stop the plastic ocean pollution problem? The answer is simple: just stop. We need to stop using single-use plastics and replace them with reusable items, like metal water bottles. Did you know that Americans throw away 2 million plastic bottles every hour? That’s enough trash to cover an area of land equivalent to Manhattan in New York City!