What’s Happening

What’s happening to our oceans?

People around the world ignore the fact that the ocean is taking a punishment from human society. Pollution is one of the most concerning issues in trying to protect and regenerate full life back into the ocean. The amount of pollution in the ocean is alternating and dismembering habitats of animals and their niches in their environments. The main sources of pollution are plastic, factory dumping, and oil spills.

Plastic 

According to elaborate studies with precise calculations from Wilson at 5gyres.org “The number [of pounds of plastic in the ocean] he [Wilson] comes up with is staggering: he conservatively estimates there are 315 billion pounds of plastic in the oceans right now” (Reily). Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation was the scientist who first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is estimated that this patch has reached the size of Texas and is growing every day (see picture). Moore states in his speech addressed on plastic in the ocean that America uses “Two Million plastic beverage bottles every 5 minutes” (Moore). This substantial number needs to be reduced by us Americans before it is to late and they take over our ocean.  [See Moore’s speech at bottom of page].

Plastic is also often mistaken for food by turtles, birds, and other sea animals. An estimated 86% of turtle species, 43% of seabird species, and 44% of marine mammals have plastics in their gut (Derraik). Having plastic in their guts can be fatal to the animals. It causes animals to starve because it clogs their digestive system in term which creates a ‘full’ feeling or to choke on the plastic and die. Many Albatross birds in the pacific are dying because of swallowing plastic. These birds can often not tell the difference between plastic bottle caps and food. (see picture on left of dead Albatross).

Jellyfish is a turtles favorite food and turtles are often mistaken for plastic bags. Because of the turtles poor eye sight, they consume these plastic bags and end up choking on them or the bags clog their digestive system and cause the innocent animal to die.

Factory Dumping

Factories now have regulations for dumping into our water supply that the waste may not be dense or hold high levels of high radioactive waste. Because of these many factories rather than dealing with their waste they dilute it with city water, so it becomes less dense and meets dumping regulations.

When dumping factory pollutants often have high levels of metal in them and are poisonous to humans. These metals are consumed through breathing in small organisms. The food chain makes higher levels of poisons in larger fish which we as humans often eat.

An example of what pollution does to these animals is on eels in an estuary in Germany. Where the eel’s habitat is located, there are chemical factories and miles of shipyards around the shores. These factors of the chemical dumping and the pollutants from the ships puts stress on the eel and altered the eel’s survival. The eel’s showed fatalities from stomach ulcers, blood glucose level increases, steroid hormone levels dropping, and some becoming emaciated. This study was from a German University in 1980 to prove about environmental stress (Sindermann).

Oil Spills

“Oil spills, which are estimated to be close to around 900,000 metric tons annually, are major pollutants of ocean waste” (Reily). The most recent, and the United States worst oil spill, was the BP Gulf Oil Spill. This spill ranged in its killings from larvae and eggs of crabs to larger animals such as fish, turtles, dolphins, whales and birds. The bird species was affected the most by the spill, approximately 4,676 birds have been collected by some cause of the oil according to the Florida Wildlife Federation. Scientists are unsure how long the effects of the oil will last in the Gulf but when compared to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 the predictions don’t look good. “Today over 20 years later oil puddles are still being found in the Prince William Sound” (Biello). The oil not only killed the marine life that got tangled in the oil but will continue to affect them for the rest of their lives.

A video of Capt. Charles Moore discussing plastic polluting our oceans.

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