Marine pollution is the introduction of harmful contaminants that are outside the norm for a given ecosystem. Common man-made pollutants that reach the ocean include pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, detergents, oil, sewage, plastics, and other harmful substances. Many of these pollutants collect at the ocean's depths, where they are consumed by small marine organisms and introduced into the global food chain. When they enter the food chain this gets very dangerous as marine organisms will start relying on the waste we give them, consequently the fish we eat may be contaminated from the chemicals. People thought that until fairly recently that because the oceans are so deep and vast, that no matter how much trash and chemicals humans dumped into them, the effects would be negligible.

Living organisms affected by our waste


Countries are heavily involved in the amount of pollution dumped in the ocean as they have the power to ban it, but many don't take necessary action.

Oil spills destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals, such as sea otters, and the water repellency of a bird's feathers, thus exposing these creatures to the harsh elements. Without the ability to repel water and insulate from the cold water, birds and mammals will die from hypothermia. Many birds and animals also ingest oil when they try to clean themselves, which can poison them. Fish and shellfish may not be exposed immediately, but can come into contact with oil if it is mixed into the water column. When exposed to oil, adult fish may experience reduced growth, enlarged livers, changes in heart and respiration rates, etc. Whenever there is an oil spill people come together and go to the beach and help out with cleaning the animals covered in oil so they can survive. Although rare, oil spills have devastating results and are very harmful to all marine life.

Results of an oil spill

Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that are added to everyday cosmetic products such as face wash, toothpaste, abrasive cleaners and lots more. They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene. Microbeads are small enough to go down your plughole and easily pass water filtration systems, usually smaller than 5 millimeters. This is the main problem, countries are contributing to the marine ecosystem as they pass through filtration systems but are not banned in enough countries.

Local, City

The River Thames was once a long time ago a clean river, vibrant with life. But, fifty years ago the river was so polluted that it was declared biologically dead. The Thames flows waste in and out of the sea. At low tide waste is clearly visible on the bank side, and high tide waste is seen floating in the current. There are many trees on the bank side which are clogged up with waste. This is very bad, fortunately people have recognized this and started cleaning it up. The Thames has been given a second life!


Latymer has very careful waste management in and around the school. On school trips teachers are very wary of people making sure all waste is deposited in the right place and not dumped onto the floor. We have many blue recycling bins around the school so that no unnecessary waste ends up in the river. Rowers may forget to pick up any rubbish accidentally dropped whilst on the pontoon or whilst rowing. Likewise there are times when rowers have to pick rubbish off their blades or on the underside of the boat after rowing in the Thames.

How are organizations trying to tackle marine pollution?

Canada and America have banned microbeads. Companies like Asda, Avon, the Bodyshop, Tesco, L’Oreal and Boots are pledging not to use them in their own brand products - but they may still stock other products with microbeads in. NGOs and campaigners are working with brands to end the use of microbeads and asking governments to consider banning them altogether.

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