The marine world of the Earth is a diverse, magical and copious ecosystem that mankind needs to maintain to survive. The water body covers more than 72% of the surface of the planet. Oceans also offer 97% of the water supply of the world and more than 70% of the oxygen supply that we breathe. Mankind should be thankful to the oceans for giving us all these. However, Marine life is in a threatening position due to manmade and natural pollution. Since we live in the same network, the introduction of waste in the form of pollution has negative impacts on the environment as well as on the ecosystem.
Marine Pollution comes in many forms, but the largest factor that is accelerating it is Plastic. Over the last 10 years, the creation and usage of plastic have increased more than the past 100 years. This entrance of plastic into the oceans will not only have an adverse effect on marine life but also humanity. Plastic kills birds, fish, and aquatic mammals. It also harms the mating capacity of the aquatic animals, has devastating consequences and thus can wipe out the whole species.
Pollution of the marine world is increasingly becoming a major problem on Earth. Human beings are all aware of the effects of marine pollution, but they continue to dispose of chemicals, garbage, plastics into the ocean. Marine Pollution is responsible for defects in marine life and hazards to the health of mankind.
Different Sources of Marine Pollution
Marine pollution is caused mainly due to two types of sources. They are:
- Land-based sources which include municipality and industrial wastes and Agricultural runoffs
- Sea-based sources which include dumping into the ocean and oil spills in the offshore lands.
Effects of Marine Pollution on the Environment
Water is one of the significant factors for the survival of mankind. Clean water is needed for agriculture and drinking purpose. But lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans are spreading contamination due to marine pollution that is in turn transferred to human beings and is affecting their health. Let us take a quick look at the undesirable effects of marine pollution on the environment.
- Polluted drinking water can spread many waterborne diseases like amoebiasis, jaundice, and typhoid.
- Severe reproductive and hormonal problems arise due to the usage of polluted water by lead, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and pesticides.
- Water Pollution can also be the reason for a damaged nervous system, liver, and kidney.
- Large exposure of mercury in water can cause cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular diseases
- A polluted beach can cause hepatitis, diarrhea, rashes, gastroenteritis, stomachaches, encephalitis and vomiting.
- More than 600 species are impacted due to marine pollution by 8 million tons of plastic every year.
- 16 species of whales and 89 species of fish have suffered death due to entanglement
- 52% whales of the ocean have ingested plastics
- Litters in the ocean cost almost 82 million dollars due to navigational hazards and vessel damage to the fishing industry of the European Union
- All the tourism industry across the seashore destinations is now facing a loss of 600 Million dollars each year due to litter on the beaches.
Other Significant effects of Marine Pollution on the Ecosystem
Besides the above mentioned unwanted effects of marine pollution, there are other important consequences also which have destructive effects on the ecosystem. Let us have a quick look at them.
Disruption of the life cycle of coral reefs
Due to oil spills on the water surface, sunlight cannot reach the aquatic animals and plants directly. This will affect the photosynthesis process which will lead to the death of aquatic plants. This can affect the oxygen level produced in the environment.
Reproductive system failure of the aquatic animals
The wastes due to agricultural and industrial discharge contain many hazardous chemicals that are poisonous for marine life. These chemicals from different pesticides gather in the fatty tissues of the aquatic animals, thus leading to the failure or malfunction of the reproductive system.
Aquatic animals that are already impacted due to marine pollution are consumed by human beings. The contaminated particles then get accumulated inside the tissues. This may cause birth defects of the unborn child in pregnant women, severe health problems or even some cases can also lead to cancer.
Effects of Hazardous wastes on the animals
The toxic chemicals and the oil reach the gills of the marine animals that make it difficult for them to ingest the food properly, which can lead to suffocation or choking, ultimately causing death.
Decreases the oxygen level in the water
Most of the wastes, especially plastics do not decompose and remain in the ocean for years. It slowly uses oxygen in the ocean during the degradation process. Thus the oxygen levels decrease in the water of the oceans. Lower oxygen level increases the chance of death of all the marine animals due to suffocation.
Effect on the entire food chain
Chemicals from the industrial wastes get washed away by the rivers and are ultimately dumped into the ocean. These toxic wastes do not dissolve easily and sink to the bottom of the ocean. Small animals consume these chemicals which in turn are eaten by large animals. Human beings eat these animals and fish. Thus the entire food chain and ecosystem is affected by the marine pollution leading to long term effect on their health.
Thus to conclude, we can say that Marine Pollution can only be stopped by preventing the usage of plastic and creating awareness regarding dumping wastes into the ocean. With small substantial measures like cutting down the use of harmful chemicals and decreasing carbon footprints, we can reduce marine pollution and ensure a healthy and safe environment for the upcoming generations. Let us together take a step ahead in controlling marine pollution.