Why we need cleaner Oceans
The ocean generates over half of the oxygen we breathe, estimated to produce between 50-80% of Earth’s oxygen. This is produced through Phytoplankton which are tiny marine plants that live on the ocean’s surface that photosynthesize, consuming carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
This makes the ocean the largest ecosystem on Earth and the Planet’s life support system, supporting all life on Earth including the human population. An ecosystem is made up of all living things such as plants and animals and nonliving things such as water in a given area.
The ocean also absorbs a quarter of all carbon dioxide created by humans which helps to regulate our climate.
Lastly, the ocean is home to millions of creatures and mammals. These are affected by pollution from digesting microplastic to getting covered in oil. It is important to protect all animals and this is why we need clean oceans.
How are our Oceans polluted?
Oil spills can happen due to accidents, they can be washed into the ocean naturally, and sometimes people dump oil straight into the ocean. Either way, they have catastrophic effects, and it proves to be very difficult when trying to remove the oil completely.
Most oils spilled will float on the ocean surface, however, this will spread fast, making the oil glisten like a rainbow on the ocean surface. However, some oil will sink to the bottom of the ocean as well.
Oil is very harmful to marine wildlife such as Turtles, Dolphins, and other mammals, Fish, Shellfish, and Sea Birds.
Rubbish ends up in the ocean when plastic is not recycled, people litter or dump their rubbish which is then carried by wind or water to the ocean.
An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea every year. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch spans in waters from the West Coast of North America to Japan. 70% of marine debris has been found to sink to the bottom of the ocean. There are 5 garbage patches in our oceans.
Turtles eat plastic bags thinking they are Jellyfish, Sea Birds, mammals such as Whales, and fish all eat microplastic.
Chemical pollution is when toxic fluids enter the ocean. A lot of chemical waste enters the ocean via atmospheric transport, runoff into waterways such as streams and rivers, or direct disposal into the ocean.
Chemicals enter the ocean from different industries, farming, medicine, and households.
This causes things such as acidification (reduction in PH level) to occur which impacts our coral reefs and Shellfish. Creatures like mussels, clams, and oysters require calcium carbonate to build their shells and skeletons. As acidity increases carbonate levels drop.
Overfishing occurs when more fish are caught than the fish population can replenish. This impacts the entire ecosystem.
Millions of other creatures, such as turtles and mammals such as dolphins and sharks are accidentally caught in the fishing nets, this is called bycatch. This results in a needless loss of marine animals.
Some of the most impacted creatures are Bluefin Tuna, Albacore Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, and there are many more. Also, some habitats which are greatly affected are; the Arctic, Gulf of California, Coastal East Africa, and Southern Chile.
How are these pollutants dealt with?
Oil can take months even years to disappear and is hard to clean up.
When an oil spill occurs it is vital this is contained as soon as possible.
If an oil spill occurs in the ocean then a specially equipped ship will deploy a boom that consists of inflatable floats to try and contain the oil in one place.
Another approach would be to contain and remove the oil through skimmers or boats, these can remove oil from the sea surface before it reaches sensitive areas. This depends on the thickness of the oil spill. If it is deep this will not work.
The ocean cleanup is a vital action to help save our oceans and marine wildlife.
One method of the ocean cleanup is to place a long floater that sits at the surface of the water and has a skirt that hangs beneath it. This stops debris going over or under the floater, rubbish is contained and removed.
Another way to minimise rubbish in our oceans is to intercept rubbish in rivers. This is done by using a machine powered by solar power that extracts plastic autonomously.
Lastly, through creating less plastic waste and using greener practices.
It is vital to prevent chemical waste reaching the ocean as much as possible, there are a range of practices which can be implemented to help, these are;
Through effective waste management and using greener practices, this can help reduce chemical waste reaching the ocean.
Farmers need to commit to sustainable agriculture, it is important not to use toxic and hazardous pesticides and synthetic fertilisers when farming.
Factories need to stop letting chemicals enter streams and rivers and control their waste disposal.
It is so important that sustainable fishing practices are implemented to ensure safe levels of fishing and fish populations can thrive. Seafood with the blue fish tick can be traced, this supports sustainable fishing.
To help; fisheries have a quota on how many fish they are allowed to catch.
Additionally, there are no-fishing zones that have been created to allow for populations to reproduce and grow in numbers, these are called protected areas.
Lastly by having equipment that monitors fisheries and regulates their activities and movements.
What can you do to help?
To help keep our Oceans less polluted there are some things you can do to help.
- When you visit the beach make sure you take your rubbish away with you. Do not leave any plastic bottles, food wrappers, or plastic bags behind.
- You can help protect the ocean at home by making sure you recycle all your plastic bottles and containers.
- Look at your cleaning products and swap them out for less hazardous products. There are many eco-friendly products available.
- Do not flush products such as wet wipes and cotton buds down the toilet. These can end up in the ocean.
- Use reusable water bottles to reduce your plastic usage.
- When you shop, instead of using plastic bags switch to a bag for life.