Ocean Pollution pollutants are destroying the world's oceans

Glossary

Solvency- having assets in excess of liabilities

Upsurge- an upward surge in strength or quantity of something

Cumulatively- a way that increases in quantity, degree, or force by successive additions

Runoff- water draining from land

Pollutant- anything that pollutes something else

What are the different kinds of ocean pollution?

While there are many different types of ocean pollution, some are more commonly known than others. The more commonly known pollutants include oil, dumping, runoff, and sewage. Another large factor that contributes to ocean pollution is land runoff. “Eighty percent of pollution to the marine environment comes from the land. One of the biggest sources is called nonpoint source pollution, which occurs as a result of runoff.” says the article “What is the biggest source of pollution in the ocean?”. There are many different ways that the ocean can be polluted, and some of those ways are not recognized by people. Some of the more unknown causes of pollution in the ocean are air pollution, agricultural runoff, and even sunscreen. Another unknown cause of ocean pollution is noise pollution. “Noise from a ship’s sonar can have devastating effects on marine animals like whales and dolphins that use sound to communicate with one another”, says the article “What are the types of ocean pollution?” Even a non-physical object, such as noise, can harm the ocean and different animals living in it. Many different things act as pollutants to the ocean, some being more obvious than others. Along with being very harmful to the ocean, all these pollutants are also harmful to species living in the ocean and the human race.

Which species are effected by ocean pollution?

While affecting the ocean and the quality of the water it contains, ocean pollution also affects many different living species. The ocean water’s solvency allows toxic pollution to enter the ocean, which has very negative effects on marine life. Coral reefs can be very harmed by oil that pollutes the ocean. According to Annette McDermott, Natural Healing Specialist, “When oil floats in the surface, it blocks sunlights and prevents marine plants from using light for photosynthesis. These plants are important parts of the food chain and reef habitats found in the oceans.” The harm that oil pollution causes to coral reefs does not only affect the reeds, but also species living in them. Oil pollution in the ocean also has severe effects on animals, and often harms birds. According to Jennifer Kennedy, a marine life expert, “A bird’s feathers are filled with air spaces that act as insulation and keep the bird warm. When a bird gets coated with oil, the feathers lose their insulating ability and the bird could die of hypothermia.” Oil pollution puts the safety of birds at risk, which can cause damage to the population. If the amount of plastic and other polluters that end up in the ocean were to decrease, then there would be much less harm done to the environment and the species living in it.

How do pollutants get into the ocean?

Debris and other harmful pollutants can get into the ocean in many different ways. A few ways that pollutants have access to the ocean is through boats at sea, land sources, and weather. According to the article, “How does Marine Debris get into the Ocean?”, “commercial shipping, drilling platforms, and recreational boating produced about about eighteen percent of all marine debris. Debris from ships includes food waste, pieces of wrecked vessels, fishing gear, lines, nets, and buoys”. Boats at sea provide many opportunities for debris and harmful dangers to enter the ocean. Many of these pollutants that come from marine boats are very dangerous objects to the water and to animals. Along with boats at sea, land sources generate and create pollution in the ocean in many different ways. Land runoff from agriculture and the harmful fertilizers in the runoff causes pollution to the ocean. According to Robert Diaz, marine biologist, “The primary culprit in marine environments is nitrogen and, nowadays, the biggest contributor of nitrogen to marine systems is agriculture.” Another common way that the ocean is polluted is through land runoff. Nitrogen that gets into the ocean from agricultural runoff has very harmful effects on the ocean, cumulatively creating algae and therefore creating less oxygen from water. Although pollutants have a lot of access to the ocean and they are having a major effect on the ocean’s health, there are solutions to ocean pollution that could help decrease or eliminate the issue.

Are there any organizations working to prevent ocean pollution?

Ocean pollution is a major current issue, and there are organizations and groups of people working to try and eliminate the problem. Different organizations, such as the International Coastal Cleanup, work to eliminate different aspects and causes of ocean pollution, such as plastic pollution and oil pollution. According to the article “Fighting for Trash Free Seas”,

“We prevent trash from entering the waters by working with everyone from individuals to businesses to change the behaviors that cause ocean trash.”

This organization is trying to prevent plastic pollution in the ocean by changing people’s habits that lead plastic to pollute the ocean. Other organizations, such as the Office for Coastal Management provides support for helping deal with the effects of oil spills in the ocean if and when they occur. “Since the effects of oil in estuaries can be especially damaging, OCM maintains close contact with the regional NERRs affected by spills to help them prepare for the possible landfall of oil or chemicals”, says the article “Oil and Chemical Spills.” There are certain organizations that work with different types of ocean pollution, and different aspects of the issue. Although these organizations help reduce and recover from ocean pollution, there are things that everyone can do individually to eliminate ocean pollution.

How can we protect the oceans from further pollution?

Some of the ways that pollution can be decreased are changing human habits, using advantages of technology, decreasing the use of fertilizer, and decreasing the release of carbon dioxide into the air. Technology is one way that can provide information about current pollution and advancements to halt ocean pollution. “Emerging technologies can help bridge our information gaps, and, with continuous advancements and innovations, there is enormous potential for science to further guide conservation”, says Maria Damanaki, Global Managing Director for Oceans at The Nature Conservancy. The upsurge in technology advancements provide information about ocean pollution and help sustain the current marine environments not affected by pollution. According to the article, “10 Things You Can Do to Save the Oceans”, “When fertilizers are used in gardening and agriculture, the excess eventually ends up in the ocean. One result is a ‘dead zone’... the size of New Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico during the spring and summer.” Decreasing the amount of fertilizer that is used would be beneficial for the ocean. Farmers using fertilizer for their farmland, or people using fertilizer on their yards, could help the ocean and decrease pollution by limiting the use of fertilizer. With help from the human race, a future of irreversible pollution damage to the ocean could be prevented.

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