Ocean ecosystems include oceans, saltwater bays, seas and inlets and the shorelines. The oceans cover about 70 per cent of the earth’s surface and have an average depth of 2.4 miles. It provides homes for many plants and animals. For example, we can find Phytoplankton plants. These plants produce more than half of the oxygen in the world.
The ocean contains a large variety of animal life, including fish, molluscs, dolphins, seals and many others. Most marine animals live in the top two ocean zones, where they have access to plants and other ocean animals to eat. The ocean is home to the largest animal species on earth – the blue whale.
What is pollution?
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Pollution is the introduction of harmful contaminants to the ocean. Common man-made pollutants that reach the ocean include pesticides, chemical fertilizers, detergents, oil, sewage, plastics, and other solids.
What causes pollution in ocean ecosystems?
Pollution can be caused by several reasons. Below are some of the causes of pollution.
Solid waste like bags, foam, and other items dumped into the oceans from land or by ships at sea are frequently consumed, by marine mammals, fish, and birds that mistake it for food. These toxins go into our human bodies in the form of food we eat.
Sewage is mostly comprised of the human waste from toilet flushing, dirty water from bathing and even animal waste. Through sewer systems, these wastewater is released into oceans. These can be harmful to creatures consuming them.
Another major ocean pollutant is a nuclear waste, which is mostly produced from industrial, medical, and also scientific procedures that use radioactive material. The common industries that produce nuclear waste include power stations, the military, and reprocessing plants. This radiation enters the food chain through plankton, and once the marine animals consume these plants they become contaminated.
Another pollutant is plastic. Plastic pollution mainly involves the accumulation of plastic in the ocean waters and thus causing adverse effects on marine organisms. Marine organisms are affected by the plastics through direct ingestion of the plastic wastes and also through exposure to chemicals that are within the plastics.
Oil spillage is another primary cause of ocean pollution in that the oil forms a layer on the water preventing oxygen circulation. Lack of oxygen in the ocean waters results in the destruction of marine life over a long period. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent these pollutants from entering the oceans to protect marine animals and plants.
Impact of pollution on Ocean Ecosystems
When excess nutrients like nitrates or phosphates get dissolved with the water it causes the eutrophication of surface waters, as it stimulates the growth of algae due to excess nutrients. Eutrophication is when there is the excess richness of nutrients in oceans.
When the ocean ecosystem absorbs the pesticides, they are incorporated into the food webs of the marine ecosystem. After getting dissolved in the marine food webs, these harmful pesticides causes mutations, and also results in diseases, which can damage the entire food web and cause harm to humans.
When toxic metals are dumped or flown into the oceans through drains, it engulfs within the marine food webs. It affects the biochemistry, reproduction process, can affect the tissue matter These can cause a change to tissue matter, biochemistry, behaviour, reproduction, and suppress and alter marine life’s growth.
Marine toxins can be transferred to several animals feeding on the fish or fish as a meal, toxins are then transferred to dairy products and meat of humans.
How to prevent pollution?
As citizens of the country all of us have an equal responsibility towards minimizing pollutions. This can be achieved by implementing the following;
- Stop using plastics
- Avoid dumping garbage everywhere
- Try to cut down the usage of harmful chemicals or limit using these chemicals near the shore
- Use organic farming methods in cultivations
- Prevent oil spills in oceans and if such spill occurs immediately help to clean the ocean
- Have proper sewage systems
- Try to use more eco-friendly products
- Plant more trees
- Conserve water as much as possible
- Use energy-saving equipment
- De-clog drains
- Actively participate to spread awareness on minimizing pollution and cleanup activities
As humans, it is our responsibility to take stand against pollution and take active measures to prevent such. In order to have a better future lets all get together and make the world more eco-friendly.