Marine pollution is the biggest threats to life in the ocean, and by extension, a threat to a key source of food for the human population. Plastics, discharged industrial effluent, residential waste, oil spills from tankers in the high seas and chemicals are the major pollutants in the oceans. Worth noting is that a significant portion of these pollutants is entirely the work of man and that they originate from land. There’s a lot information about earth pollutions you can read in the essay on pollutions.
Marine pollution has a devastating impact on marine life since it makes the ocean inhabitable for marine life. The result is that most marine life die due to extreme conditions, which has ripple effects in the ecosystem that lives underwater.
These areas where marine life is unsustainable are referred to as dead-zones since these regions lack of oxygen, and without oxygen, marine life cannot survive. Statistics indicate that these dead zones, cumulatively, are in the order of 500, and projections suggest that the number is highly likely to increase due to wanton marine pollution.
Disruption and Loss of Marine Life
A lot of marine pollution comes from the land. Plastics form the most significant portion of marine pollutants in the ocean. With the rise of large cities with proximity to the oceans, more and more plastics are finding their way to the oceans and seas day in day out. The numbers indicate that an upwards of eight million tons of plastic find its way to the oceans every year. What exacerbates the situation is that the disposal of plastic in the ocean is exponential, while there are intangible efforts to clean and get rid of the plastic in the polluted oceans and seas.
Microplastics in the sea are the result of washed up particles of plastics when it rains. Plastics and microplastics hugely disrupt marine life. Plastics choke aquatic flora and fauna by blocking airspaces that allow for the efficient exchange of respiratory gases. Like other living things, marine life cannot survive without air. In some cases, these plastics clog the digestive tracts of marine animals, and in some cases, turtles, in particular, become entangled in plastic debris, which inhibits their movement, thus leading to death.
Risks to Humans
The oceans and seas are a critical resource for humans. Humans depend on the oceans for fish and other aquatic food. Marine pollution affects humans in two dimensions. When microplastics or plastics find their way to the oceans and seas, they choke marine life, fish included, causing them to die and reduce in number. In such cases, there is a disruption in the supply of fish in the human food chain, and humans get little fish to consume.
Further, when these fish and aquatic animals consume these microplastics, they are ingested, and they remain in their bodies. The non-biodegradable nature of these plastics and microplastics make them stay in the animal’s body without degradation for some time, and when this gets to humans in the form of food, it could pose health risks to humans.
This could result in the emergence of unforeseen outbreaks and diseases, which could lead to poor health on the part of humans.
Disruption of Coral Reefs
Oil spills disrupt coral reefs since the thick layer of oil keeps floating on the water surface. Oil prevents air from getting into the water and equally prevents sunlight from effectively penetrating to the lower beds of the sea. Since coral reefs are essentially huge structures under the water that consist of skeletons of corals, these reefs face massive disruption in the event of oil spills, since the resources that allow for their effective growth become unavailable or little in supply.
Also, oil and toxic spills get in the feathers of birds that are part of the marine ecosystem, as well as gills of other marine animals. Oil spills are destructive to marine life, and whenever they occur, the chances are high that a lot of aquatic life will die due to the disruption of the supply of crucial resources like air and sunlight, which impairs their ability to make food and to live.
In summary, marine pollution has significant effects on marine life as well as humans. However, these effects have not been a deterrent to marine polluters. Increasingly, pollution in the oceans and seas increases daily, and the steps taken to clean the oceans do not match the rate at which these oceans take in pollutants.
Marine pollution has a substantial economic, health, and social cost to humans, and these costs, with time, will weigh in on humans. Significant drops in marine food will result in shocks and disruptions in human food, since fish and aquatic animals remain an abundant large source of food, protein in particular, for a significant number of humans.
The other effect that humans will have to bear is the emergence of diseases and outbreaks due to contaminated marine food. When oil spills happen, fish are affected. The oil sticks on their gills, and in some cases, they ingest the oil. When that fish makes its way into human food, the chances of falling ill from stomach complications or getting cancer are high.