Ocean Pollution



Pollution in our oceans is a serious problem. According to Marie Wild in her article “Ocean Pollution”, “Ocean pollution is one of the major killers of our sea animals.”. Most of the waste that is dumped is plastic, which takes hundreds of years to break down (Oceanic Research Foundation [ORF]). Everyday millions of animals are caught in fishing nets and six pack beer rings. It is thought that only fish are affected from getting caught in these. In reality they also kill birds, turtles, dolphins and seals. The animals are slowly strangled or suffocated by the rings as well as cans, fishing line, nets, kite strings and ropes (Wild). Or, as stated be the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), they die from accidental consumption (NWF website). Garbage is not the only threat to the safety of our oceans though, other things, such as, air pollution and chemicals are dangers too.
Ships cause much of this pollution, often dumping raw sewage into the ocean (Ocean Dumping-The Causes of Ocean Pollution; Ed Hunt, pg. 37). Also responsible are the factories that are located on the coast. These factories often, in search of easy disposal, will dump chemicals into the ocean. In previous years major culprits were paper mills and related plants, which would release waste into the ocean. A large increase could lead to long term rises in the levels of water mutagens, pathogens, teratogens and radioactive materials (Hunt 46).
An article from ORF, “Oceans at Risk-Problems and Dangers Affecting our Oceans”, reads:
From the land, high levels of pesticides and toxins are being carried to the oceans, dramatically affecting shallow coastal zones, sea grass marine nursery areas, and coral reefs. Over sixty percent of the raw or treated sewage produced by man, rich in nitrogen, is being dumped into the oceans causing eutrophication in coastal waters. This overabundance of nutrients is causing algae blooms worldwide, impacting the marine food web. The red tide blooms (dinoflagellate) have caused shellfish poisoning in humans and mass mortality of clams.
Some of the chemicals that have been identified in water tests are; alkylated lead, benzo(a)pyrene, DDT, mercury and mirex. All of these chemicals are potentially dangerous to humans and destructive to aquatic ecosystems (Environment Canada webpage; “Fresh Water” article). Also stated in the article was:
Water is purified in large part by the routine actions of living organisms. Energy from sunlight drives the process of photosynthesis in aquatic plants, which produces oxygen to break down some of the organic material such as plant and animal waste. This decomposition produces the carbon dioxide, nutrients and other substances needed by plants and animals living in the water. The purification cycle continues when these plants and animals die and the bacteria decompose them, providing new generations of organisms with nourishment. Unfortunately there are many toxic substances which are affected only slowly or not at all, by this and other processes. These are called persistent and are of great environmental concern.
. All of these things are polluting our oceans and slowly killing organisms that are vital to the environment. There are things that can be done to help save our oceans and if we don’t start soon it may be too late.




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