Marine Pollution – A Big Threat to the Environment
The Earth is covered with almost 2/3rd of its portion with ocean water. Ocean water plays a very important role to maintain our ecology. Not only maintaining ecology but oceans have many other reasons that make it one of the important parts of mankind such as trade, industry, adventure, commerce, food etc.
Human beings have started using the oceans in varied ways and also get success. Unfortunately, one of the very harmful use what humans have started using the ocean for disposing the wastes into large scales. This has led to a very critical situation for marine life.
Marine life is an important part of the ecology and human have disturbed the ecology by polluting marine life. We are continuously contaminating sea water by releasing a huge variety of waste from various sources such as industrial waste, agricultural waste, oil spilling, ocean mining etc.
There are various species of plants & animals that are living in the sea water and gets affected by marine pollution. Imbalance in the ecology is causing various diseases to water animals which are dangerous situations for the environment.
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What Are the Types of Marine Pollution?
Marine pollution i.e. also be termed as ocean pollution has become one of the biggest threats due to industrialization and agricultural activities. it is hazardous not only for the water kingdom but for human beings directly or indirectly. There are different types of marine pollution such as –
- Toxin marine Pollution
Toxins are one of the very dangerous marine pollution’s that occurs due to various toxins accumulated the oceans. Toxins such as DDT, Furan, Radioactive waste, pesticides, PCB, TBT, Phenol etc. neither gets dissolve nor gets fragmented and hence cause dangerous effects to marine life.
- Eutrophication Marine Pollution
It affects the breeding process of animals. Eutrophication actually means nutrient pollution which occurs when excessive chemical nutrients (especially nitrates & phosphates) are present in water. It diminishes the quality of water and also reduces the oxygen level in the water which leads to inhabitable condition to marine life.
- Plastic Marine Pollution
The continuous growth in the usage of plastic has covered the oceans badly across the world. The rate of plastic dumped in the oceans is increasing simultaneously with the increase of human population. The plastic dumps are affecting the marine life so badly that the situation has become alarming for the marine ecosystem.
- Acidification Marine Pollution
Oceans also help the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the water of the oceans is becoming acidic due to the excessive carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. Acidification of oceans is also affecting marine life.
What Are the Sources of Marine Pollution?
In simple terms “seawater contamination is known as marine pollution”. There are numerous sources that contaminate marine ecology such pollution occurs due to soil erosion & mining.
- Plastic is one of the major sources of marine pollution. Polythene, plastic bag, bottles, etc. are thrown in the sea.
- Marine pollution causes due to sewage disposed of in sea water. All the industrial wastes are thrown in the rivers and oceans. It creates a huge negative impact on the ocean.
- Toxins from various sources such as pesticides, fertilizers, phenol etc.
- Oil spills also pollute sea water.
- Thermal pollution is also a source of marine pollution. All various causes and effects are discussed below in detail.
What Are the Causes of Marine Pollution?
Marine pollution is caused due to various reasons out of which most of the reasons are man-made. Sometimes, it causes due to wastage dumped and sometimes due to ocean mining. Whatever is the cause but the fact is that marine pollution is causing hazardous effects on marine animals and vegetation. There are various causes of marine pollution which are discussed below –
- Marine pollution through sewage
Pollution directly enters the ocean in the form of sewage. Sewage enters into the ocean water through rivers and pollutes the marine life. It causes the reduction of oxygen level in the water which hampers the life of animals and plants of oceans.
- Marine pollution through the oil spill
Oil spills from ships also cause marine pollution. It is one of the major toxins that contaminate ocean water which does not clean up so easily. Oil spills lead to the death of thousands of innocent marine animals due to suffocation and toxic effects of it.
- Marine pollution through industrial chemicals
Ocean pollution is also caused due to the toxins and chemicals entered into seawater through industrial & agricultural wastes. These chemical acts as heavy pollutants that cause thermal pollution. The temperature of the ocean increases due to thermal pollution. There are some animals in oceans who cannot survive in high temperature, hence they die.
- Marine pollution through mining
Ocean mining not only comes under the causes of marine pollution but also causes noise pollution. Deep-sea mining affects the base level of the ocean. The pollutants that release through mining of metals such as silver, gold, copper etc. into the seawater affect the life of the marine ecosystem.
- Marine Pollution through Land Runoff
Marine water also gets polluted through land runoff. It occurs when excessive water from rain, flood etc. after penetration enters into the sea water. This water enters the oceans along with contaminants such as pesticides, oil, fertilizers, waste from land animals etc. and pollutes the ocean water. These pollutants cause harmful effects to oceanic life and lead to the death of water animal & plants.
Other causes of marine pollution –
- Greenhouse gases emitted from fossil fuel are majorly responsible for marine pollution, causing acidification of water.
- Atmospheric pollution also contributes to marine pollution. For example- atmospheric carbon dioxide increases the acidity of oceanic water.
- The nuclear wastes from various industries pollute the marine ecology affecting the food chain of the marine ecosystem.
- Thermal pollutants from power plants, manufacturing industries, etc. enter into oceans, increasing the temperature of the water.
- Acid rain is also responsible for marine pollution.
- During acid rains, the sulphuric acid and nitric acid mix with marine water, increasing the acidity of the water.
What are the harmful effects of marine pollution?
Ocean life is highly affected by marine pollution. The toxins, chemicals, contaminated wastes etc. are some of the dangerous causes of marine pollution. These pollutants affect the oceanic Eco-system in various ways such as –
- Reduction of oxygen level in the water
Most of the waste dumped in oceans across the world does not able to decompose for many years that decreasing the oxygen level in the water quite rapidly. Excessive debris in sea water is reducing the oxygen level at an alarming rate. The low level of oxygen is directly affecting the health of the plants and animals of the sea such as sharks, penguins, whales, dolphin, turtles, seal etc.
- Affects the oceanic food chain
The river that eventually enters into the sea takes agricultural & industrial waste with it into the sea water. The agricultural & industrial debris such as pesticides, chemicals, radioactive dumped waste etc. sediments into the bottom level of the ocean and remains as usual for many years. This deposited waste affects from the bottom to the top surface of the ocean. The small animals of ocean swallow these chemicals and then these small animals are eaten by large animals. In this way, the entire food chain gets affected.
- Upset the coral reef cycle
Oil spills that cover the surface of seawater do not allow sunlight to reach oceanic plants. Hence it affects photosynthesis process. As a result, the cycle of coral reef gets disturbed.
- Affects the reproductive system of water animals
The waste from industries and agriculture are composed of harmful chemicals that affect marine life badly. These chemicals are so dangerous that it can damage the organs of water animals such as the reproductive system. The failure of the reproductive system affects the breeding process of the species of water animals.
- Harmful effects of toxins on marine life
The toxins that is accumulating day by day in oceans showing dangerous results on water animals such as cancer, damage of tissues & cells, failure of organs, behavioral changes, failure of reproductive system etc. The harmful chemicals, pesticides, oil spills get into the body of these animals directly or indirectly & causes various health issues and sometimes lead to death.
Other effects of marine pollution –
- An increase in oceanic temperature through pollution leads to an interruption in the natural water equations causing the unconditional death of innocent water animals.
- Marine pollution also affects human health indirectly.
- When humans consume affected animals, the pollutants transferred into their bodies from the impacted ocean animal.
- The toxins dissolved in the water increase the acidity of the ocean, causing high risk to the marine animals.
- Pollutants like oil spills act as a barrier between the sun and the seafloor. These pollutants restrict the sunlight to reach the seafloor affecting the photosynthesis process of plants.
Prevention of Marine Pollution
As we all know that prevention is better than cure, so we all need to work together to prevent marine pollution. Marine life is an important part of our Eco-system and it is everyone’s responsibility to save marine animals and natural resources. We can make a difference working together to prevent marine pollution. Some of the important preventive measures of marine pollution have been listed below –
- According to the studies, almost 80% marine pollution caused due to waste from lands. We can reduce this by limiting the waste material.
- Plastic bags, bottles etc. have become one of the big reasons for marine pollution. We need to stop using plastic made material to save marine life and our environment.
- We all need to put efforts to clean the sea beaches. If beaches will be cleaned, marine pollution can be reduced to some extent.
- The farmers should use organic farming techniques instead of using chemical pesticides and fertilizers. When these fertilizers and pesticides entered into ocean water causes various health issues to the plants & animals of the sea.
- We all need to make sure that only rainwater goes into the drainage because most of the drain water goes into oceans. If we allow sewage and waste material to get into the drainage, it will eventually affect the marine life.
- Most of the rivers flow into the oceans and also the wastes get entered in the sea water. Hence we also need to take care of the cleanliness of the rivers so that it cannot contaminate the marine life.
- We should stop using single-use plastic to protect the marine ecosystem.
- Say “NO” to disposables such as straws, tumblers, plastic carry bags, etc. These items only increase the amount of waste that ultimately goes into oceans.
- Recycling helps a lot to protect ocean ecology.
- We should try to minimize energy use to reduce the oceanic temperature.
- Give preference to buy Eco-friendly products and materials.
- Spread awareness among people about the conservation and importance of the marine environment.
- You can join any organization that works for the conservation of marine culture from pollution.
Causes and effects of marine pollution is on the rise. As we read above many types of marine pollution, We must act together to protect ocean life and keep the water animals safe and maintaining a pleasant environment on the earth for every species.