Ocean Pollution It is believed that 4. 6 billion years ago our Earth was formed. And over 200 million years ago the great body of water on this planet, what we call the ocean, was able to be formed (History of the Ocean). For 200 million years our ocean has flourished with the life of all matters of creatures from some of the first ever cells to take life, to pre-historic dinosaurs, to the fish, plants, and mammals we see today. However, today we face a new point in the history of our ocean. Today we face the potential destruction of our beloved body of water.
Since the first inhabitants of Earth, the ocean has been a necessary resource for our way of life. However, since the first human inhabitants on Earth, we have poisoned this great resource. At first, it seemed harmless, what is one piece of trash going to harm in such a massive body of water? If everyone in the world who ever lived contributed just one piece themselves over their life time, it would add up to almost one-hundred and eight billion pieces of trash (Haub). Now ask again, what is one piece of trash times 108 billion going to harm in such a massive body of water?
If we do not act now, our ocean as we have come to know and love will not be around for future generations to explore and love themselves. And cleaning up our oceans is just as easy to do as throw out a piece of trash properly. A simple step to helping a stop to ocean pollution is by simply throwing trash in the trash, not the ocean. If trash is on the ground or beach, pick it up and throw it out. It’s a simple thing that can have an astronomical impact. From beach cleanups to buckets that suck in trash from the surface, every contribution helps preserve and let flourish again our ocean.
Over the last fifty years at the least to say, we have seen a greater destruction to our ocean than ever before in history. A rapid decline in the population of sea turtles. Many other marine species are facing threats of extinction. Coral reefs that home hundreds of thousands of marine lives are dying because of the blockage of sunlight to them and suffocation to them from trash. Seagulls and other migratory birds that fly over the ocean are being choked or starved to death by the capture of themselves in plastics or consumption of trash.
According to a report published in the Review of Research Journal, the Marine Academy’s Oceanography website reports “there are over 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in each square mile of ocean off of the Northeast coast of the United States. ” The plastic contributes to the death of millions of sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals each year (McDermott). Not only is it plastics that are causing harm to our oceans but oils and toxins such as pesticides, nuclear waste, and sewage are harming our waters.
These toxins sink to the bottom of the ocean and bottom feeders ingest them, these bottom feeders are then eaten by fish who are eaten by larger fish which are eventually eaten by humans. These toxins once ingested by humans can cause disease, cancer, and even respiratory and birth defects (McDermott). So not only are we harming the life in the ocean but it comes back around to bite us right back. A Center for Biological Diversity report states that within a year of the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 82,000 birds of 102 species were likely harmed or killed.
In addition, approximately 6,165 sea turtles, 25,900 marine mammals, and an unknown number of fish were harmed or killed. As of mid-June, 2010, the spill contributed to the death of 658 sea birds, 279 sea turtles, 36 sea mammals, and countless fish (A Deadly Toll). It comes as a tragedy to see all this devastation of our ocean, but simple solutions can be as easy as starting at home. In a study by the Irish Department of the Environment, by using reusable bags instead of plastic bags, consumption and use of plastic bags fell by 93. 5% (facts about the plastic bag pandemic).
Storing food in reusable containers and avoiding buying products with excess packaging are ways that help reduce the amount of plastic waste enormously. Changes in lifestyle, such as recycling and not littering are great contributions that can be made to reduce plastic waste that can end up in the ocean (Bernard). So solutions to ocean pollution can be as simple as starting right at home. However, even greater movements can be made to help clean up our oceans. Volunteering at beach cleanups and donating to local organizations that protect the ocean are great ways too.
Organizations such as Ocean Conservancy host world wide coastal beach cleanups that collect millions of pounds of trash. An astounding 560,000 volunteers in 91 countries picked up more than 16 million pounds of trash in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup in 2014 (2015 trash ocean index). Thave had personal experience from volunteering at beach cleanups in my community and I can say that not only is it a great cause that is being done but they are enjoy filling. A group of classmates along with our marine science teacher volunteered with a local organization in our community to help clean up Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Florida.
We had over twenty-five volunteers and after three hours of clean up, we collected more than 5 industrial sized trash cans full of trash. Not only though were we cleaning up our beaches but it is an enjoyable experience from being able to hang out with friends on the beach and being able to hear and smell the sounds of the ocean while all contributing to the conservancy of our ocean. According to an article in Business Insider, in 2015, two Australian surfers, Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski came up with the idea for a trash bucket in the water known as the Seabin.
The Seabin is a bucket that sucks in trash from the surface of the water by a pump and by filtering the water back through to the ocean. The Seabin is currently used at harbors and marinas where trash is dumped commonly. No fish are harmed because it works on the surface where trash floats, and they only cost about $20 a month. A great innovative invention, the Seabin, that if used world wide all throughout the ocean can greatly reduce pollution. Greater measures can be taken to help prevent expansion of pollution in our ocean than the simple solutions at home.
For instance, pushing for legislation from the government on tougher and stricter regulations on big industries and manufacturing. More use of renewable energy to lessen or even stop off shore drilling. If we limit the use of our agricultural pesticides (Bernard), this will reduce the amount of runoff of these toxins that make their way into our waters. Simply cutting down on our waste will reduce the trash that ends up in our waters causing harm and destruction. If any if not all of these solutions can be implemented, we can drastically reduce the amount of pollution that ends up in the ocean.
To care about the ocean doesn’t mean one is a full on environmentalist tree hugger. It simply means that we care for our ocean, it’s preservation, it’s well-being, and most of all its future. For those who say that a little trash will not hurt because the ocean is so big, well they may be right but on a large scale where so many people do not even realize how much trash is in the ocean and that in 2010 five to thirteen million metric tons of just plastic wound up in the ocean (Mohan), it goes to show how much there really is.
For those who get sea sick its always better to throw-up into the water as opposed to making a mess on board because “the ocean is self-cleaning”. Well, this may be true for vomit and feces but when it comes to trash not so much. The ocean doesn’t just make the trash disappear, it floats away from being our problem right then to being our devastation 15 years from now. So for those who say just a little trash is not going to hurt or the ocean is self cleaning and the trash will just “disappear”, it doesn’t and if we don’t do anything about it, it will be the ocean that we know and love that will disappear.
Our oceans are being polluted and destroyed faster than we can clean them and for it to rebuild itself. If nothing is done our ocean will be oil filled water from the trash and waste which we dispose of in it with no plant or marine life left. The time is now to take a stance and stop pollution to our waters and to clean them up to preserve our great ocean for future generations not only for humans but of the lives of marine life and plants that are to come too.