The ocean remains one of the most vast, mysterious and diverse places on our planet. But as we’ve learned, it’s vulnerable to something as simple as the human touch.
Every day our oceans are being threatened by pollution and as you might expect, marine life is suffering at an alarming rate.
The numbers to support this? Flat out scary.
Ocean pollution affects more than 817 animal species around the world, a figure that has increased 23% in the last 5 years alone.
Causes of Ocean Pollution
The majority of the waste we produce on land eventually reaches the oceans, whether intentional or not — and there are various ways by which this happens.
- Ocean mining
- Oil spills
- Agricultural runoff
- Toxic chemicals
- Air pollutants
- Maritime transportation
Effects of Ocean Pollution
- Depletion of oxygen content in the water
- Effect of toxic wastes on marine animals
- Failure in the reproductive system of marine animals
- Contamination of food chain
- Effect on human health
- Disruption to the cycle of coral reefs
Ocean Pollution Facts
If you, I, and those around the word are to preserve our oceans, drastic measures have to be taken to combat this pollution.
Below are some astounding facts that demonstrate the size and severity of the issue, and why the solution relies on the small, everyday actions of individuals and business owners around the world – including you.
Fact 1: Plastics are the most common element found in the ocean today. Plastic in particular is harmful to the environment as it does not break down easily and is often mistaken as food by marine animals.
Fact 2: According to a study done by the University of Georgia, 18 billion pounds of plastic trash winds up in our oceans each year. To put that in perspective, it’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic…compounding every year.
Fact 3: The 5 most common items found in coastal cleanups around the world are all single-use plastics. They are: plastic cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bottle caps, and plastic straws and drink stirrers.
Fact 4: There are 25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea.
Fact 5: 80% of trash in the ocean is from land-based sources, including individuals, industry and improper waste management/infrastructure. Only 20% is the result of ocean-based sources, such as the fishing, shipping, and cruise ship industries.
Fact 6: Plastics cause more than 80% of the negative effects on animals associated with ocean trash.
Fact 7: There is an island of garbage twice the size of Texas inside the Pacific Ocean: the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California is the largest oceanic garbage site in the entire world. It’s here that the number of floating plastic pieces in the water outnumbers total marine life six to one in the immediate vicinity.
Fact 8: Ocean pollutions kills more than one million sea birds each year.
Fact 9: A recent survey found ocean pollution is more common in deep waters (more than 2,000 feet deep), with the most common offenders being plastic bags, metal cans, fishing equipment, glass bottles, shoes, tires, etc.
Fact 10: Research estimates anywhere from 15 to 51 trillion particles of floating micro plastic are in our oceans, weighing between 205-520 million pounds. This includes plastic microbeads (used as exfoliates in some personal care products) and synthetic fibers, both of which are too small to be filtered out by many waste water treatment plants.
Fact 11: Approximately 4 billion pounds of trash per year enters the ocean.
Fact 12: Approximately every square mile of ocean has more than 45,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.
Fact 13: There are dead zones in the oceans that have been created by pollution making life in those zones impossible for marine or plant life.
Fact 14: Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement and ingestion.
What You Can Do to Prevent Further Ocean Pollution
By now you’ve hopefully realized this issue is much larger, and deserves more attention, than just a blog read. I challenge you to do something about it today.
We’re all responsible for this mess, and it will take all of us to help clean it up.
Here’s how you can pitch in:
- Any time you see litter, regardless of what it is, pick it up and properly dispose of it.
- Remember: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Reduce your usage of single-use plastics. Reuse plastic packaging as many times as you can. Recycle rather than throw away.
- Avoid products with excessive packaging
- Bring a reusable bag for shopping (i.e. grocery store, retail shops, etc.)
- If you are to buy/use a product that contains a plastic “six-pack” holder, be sure to cut it before disposing of it. In the ocean, these rings expand, often times tangling or choking wildlife.
- Educate those around you and don’t be afraid to talk trash to your friends and family. People can’t change what they don’t know about, so help spread the word.