Saturday, April 25, 2020

What are major Ocean Environmental Problems and solutions ?

Ocean environmental pollution is a major threat to the ocean ecosystem and marine life. About 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities


Ocean environmental pollution is a major threat to the ocean ecosystem and marine life. The oceans cover about 70 percent of the earth's surface. Despite these vast areas, the world's oceans are in grave danger.
Human activities are a major threat to the health of the world's oceans. About 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities (trash and debris). From coral bleach to rising sea levels, marine environments are changing rapidly.

Marine Debris is a major problem ( flickr)
Marine Debris is a major problem 



Plastic and global warming greatly affect the marine animals. Around 8 million tons of garbage are dumped into the ocean every day. Due to Global warming the temperature of oceans increases and it is threatening many  marine species that cannot cope with higher temperatures. Overfishing has also become a serious problem for all over the world.

In this article we will discuss the major ocean environmental problems one by one in detail and try to find their solutions.

1). Plastic Pollution


Plastic pollution not only threatens human health, but is also harmful for Marine Species. Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, half of which is used to make single-use items such as shopping bags, Disposal cups and plates, straws etc.

About eight million tons of plastic end up in oceans every year, and make up 80 percent of all marine debris from  surface water to deep-sea sediments.


via GIPHY

As we know Plastic is a Non-Biodegradeable substance. In the ocean it is divided into small pieces called microplastic. Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic waste, which causes severe injuries and deaths. so plastic is one of the major reasons for the extinction of marine species. (IUCN)


Have you Read - 

How does plastic harm the environment
Facts About Plastic Pollution (2019), Which you have to know


2). Overpopulation


The current population of the Earth is over 7.6 billion people and growing day by day. It could reach Eight billion by 2025. As the human population grows, the rate of extinction of species is increasing. because human beings are doing all illegal activities to fulfill their needs. such as, Over fishing, hunting and Poaching.

One more thing, A vast amount of the discarded waste of consumers also finds its way to the oceans which Causes deaths of marine species.

The demand of an unsustainable human population for large-scale terrestrial food production also affects the oceans in devastating ways. Marine fish provide 15% of all animal protein consumed by humans. Under this pressure - 15% of total Population (and growing every year) global fisheries are collapsing.

Lastly, overpopulation is a major threat for oceans and marine species.

3). Ocean temperature rise


Climate change is the main cause of rise in ocean temperature. Scientific reports  indicate that the Earth's atmosphere and ocean are warming day by day, and these changes are mainly due to greenhouse gases derived from human activities.

The Rise in ocean temperature is the cause of the killing of coral reefs across the planet. Coral reefs are home to the widest diversity of fish and plant species in the ocean, but rise in ocean temperature due to Climate change causing them stress.


via GIPHY


4). Ocean Acidification



Ocean acidification refers to a reduction in the pH of the ocean which is caused mainly by ingestion of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
 The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is increased due to the burning of fossil fuels, and other agricultural activities.
Oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the environment to maintain heat on the earth's surface.  but the excess amount of heat increases the ocean temperature. which lowers the pH, making oceans more acidic.

Ocean water is less acidic than fresh water. Normal ph of ocean water is 8.2 . But as the ocean absorbs more and more carbon dioxide(CO2) from the atmosphere, it becomes more acidic. Which is very harmful for marine species such as coral reefs, Algae and plankton etc, that  disturb the whole food chain.

The alkalinity of the oceans is very important in maintaining a balance needed for marine animals. If the ocean water is too acidic, the animals may not be able to make strong shells. ( Climatekids )



5). Unsustainable Aquaculture


Vigorous aquaculture at sea advocates the proliferation of pollutants in ocean water.

The production of marine fish, crustaceans and bivalves involves the use of antibiotics, pesticides and other chemicals.  one of them nitrogen-based wastes can negatively affect the marine ecosystem.


6). Invasive species in the ocean


Invasive species can lead to the extinction of native marine species, destroy biodiversity, and permanently alter habitats through both direct and indirect effects. Invasive species may negatively affect native marine species due to direct interactions like Predation and competition. For example, they can spread diseases in native species.This can cause native species to be  vulnerable.

Without  check and balances in invasive's new range, their population can increase dramatically in a short period of time. This growth may reduce habitat quality, lower biodiversity, and eventually impact fishery resources and protected marine species. (Invasive and Exotic Marine Species)


7).  High Levels of Mercury 


Excess mercury causes severe illness in humans and marine life. High levels of mercury can cause serious diseases. 
Mercury enters the environment through many routes and one of them enters the human body is through the ingestion of fish. As the temperature of the ocean rises the level of mercury in fish also increases. 
 As a result, the consumption of  the black scabbard fish and tuna should be regulated. 


8). Ocean habitat destruction



When marine environment or the ecological setup is unable to support marine species is called marine habitat loss or destruction. 

 Main causes of habitat destruction are climate change, land pollution, plastic pollution, unsustainable fishing, shipping impact etc. 

Habitat loss causes less oxygen construction in ocean water which is not able to support aquatic life. Animals such as whale, sharks depend on other aquatic ones for food. In the last marine habitat loss disturbs the food chain. 





9). Overfishing



Over fishing has some serious effects on our oceans. Overfishing is not only wipe out fish species but also responsible for the extinction of those species which directly or indirectly depend upon fishes for food.


10). Oil Spilling


Oil spills can be catastrophic to local marine species such as fish, birds and others. Oil spills make up about 12 percent of the oil that enters into the ocean. The other 88 percent come from shipping travel, drains and dumping.


As we all know that Oil cannot dissolve in water and forms a thick layer in the water. This sludge layer suffocates fish, gets caught in the feathers of marine birds. another major threat is that this oilly layer  blocks light from photosynthetic aquatic plants.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


1). What does coral bleaching mean?

When ocean water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. This process is called coral bleaching.


2). What is the most toxic form of mercury?


Methylmercury  [CH3Hg] is the most toxic form. It affects the immune system, enzyme systems, alters genetic and damages the nervous system.


Ocean Pollution Solutions


  1.  We must reduce single-use plastic items, such as straws, plastic bags, plastic cups, cutlery etc. 
  2.  Proper waste management is must to save the oceans. As a solution an international aid programme should be established to develop waste management and recycling infrastructure. 
  3.  Goverenment must increase funds for clean up to solve the plastic problem.
  4.  Avoid Products Containing Microbeads (Tiny plastic particles). Microbeads are found in face scrubs, toothpastes, and bodywashes, and they readily enter our oceans through our sewerage systems, and affect marine species. 
  5.  Support those Organizations which are Addressing Plastic Pollution such as  Oceanic Society, Plastic Pollution Coalition, 5 Gyres, Plastic Soup Foundation, and others. 
  6. Reduce Carbon Emissions to stop ocean acidification which harm marine life.
  7. Do not buy jewelry or other items made from coral, tortoise shells, or other marine species. 
  8. Donate as much as possible to an organization that protects the ocean. such as Blue Ocean Society, Greenpeace, Ocean Conservancy etc. 

Conclusion


Oceans are boon for us. Because they absorb carbon dioxide from the environment which is important for the existence of human being on earth. so, we should take care of our oceans by changing our daily habits.

Thanks for Reading!


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elonjeevan

Author & Editor

ex science student

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