Water, a basic necessity to all the living things on this planet is getting contaminated day by day and the life which inhabits on it is deeply disrupted. As the earth contains 3/4 of water which is probably the biggest reason for living things to be alive and every living thing depends on this natural resource. Oceans across the world are getting polluted at a large scale and the biggest culprit behind this mess is none other than the humans themselves.
A humungous amount of plastic gets produced every year which is a big shareholder in polluting the water as loads and loads of trash gets dumped into the ocean every minute and the total amount looks even scarier, millions of tons of plastic get devoured by the oceans every year and the sea life is a major concern whether the species might exist in the years to come.
What is plastic?
Plastics are manufactured (human-made) materials, made from polymers, the molecules of plastic contains various carbon atoms, hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and nitrogen filling in the spaces. A polymer is a molecule made from combining a smaller molecule called a monomer. Poly means many, so polymer is basically a combination of many monomers. Think about a house made up of many bricks each brick is the monomer and the resulting house is the polymer which is made from many bricks (monomers).
Biodegradation is a process “the metabolic breakdown of materials into smaller components by living organisms or microorganisms”.
Depending on the type of material and environment, the time to complete biodegradation may vary. Plastics takes hundreds and hundreds of years to complete its decomposition, because of the polymers that combine to make up its chemical structure.
The impact of plastic pollution in the oceans varies and affect multiple domains of species whether living in the sea or not.
-Animals & Fishes:
Animals & Fishes use the sea as their home, to drink or to travel across the shores etc.
Shoals of fish die due to the cause of eating plastic thrown into the sea. It is researched that the fishes don’t die just by eating plastic but the plastic eaten is not metabolized due to the weak metabolism of these species resulting them not to eat for many days as they feel eaten all the time which starves them to death or by suffocating made by the plastic which gets stuck down the throat.
-The Food Chain:
An important aspect which keeps the world going through many phases of time, but due to mass damage to marine life by the pollution, the small breed fishes aren’t able to reproduce. Damaging the food chain in the sea as well as on land.
Low levels of BPA and PS oligomer have been proven to cause hormone disruption in animals. Scientific research has shown many results about the disruption of metabolism in human and animals.
Heart diseases, diabetes, abnormally high levels of certain liver enzymes and chemical levels in urine are affected.
Often associated with the term “Rainforests of the sea”. Coral reefs are sea animals which are made up of rocks and leaves. Corals are important for the sea life but the plastic pollution in the ocean destroys many corals by getting attached to the head of coral and ripping it off with huge tides.
Countries which mostly rely on their sea trade with other nations are heavily affected by the disrupted sea trade in the past decade or so.
Some facts about plastic pollution and ways to reduce it.
Facts About Water Pollution:
- At least 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans each year.
- There is more micro plastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way.
- 322 million tons of plastic were produced in 2015.
- Almost 80 percent of marine litter is plastic-based.
- More than 50 percent of sea turtles have consumed plastic.
- The average U.S. citizen consumes 167 plastic water bottles each year but only 25 percent of them are recycled.
- The quatntity for plastic pollution in the ocean may increase 10 times in the next decade.
- 15 million children under the age of five die each year because of diseases caused by drinking water.
- Plastic waste pollutes water drastically and is causing a huge destruction in marine life and it is believed almost 100,000 sea mammals, birds and various types of fishes die each year.
- The aquatic animals have an estimated extinction rate five times more than that of land animals.
Ways to reduce or limit the waste:
1. Stop buying disposable bottles
2. Take your own household equipment when going hiking or to seaside
3. Boycott micro beads (a form of plastic) used in various products
4. Ask marts or shops to use paper or cardboard bags
5. Reuse your products at home
6. Buy items in cardboard boxes
7. Bring your own shopping bags for shopping
Awareness & Concern:
A concern towards the marine life as some fishes and mammals may become extinct in the years to come and some are already endangered species especially the small species which face difficulty reproducing.
Strive towards protecting the water which is the core necessity required for any living thing on this planet to live, the earth which contains about 70% of water but only 2.5% of water is freshwater and the world dreads that in the coming decade large amount of population will be affected by the shortage of drinking water.