World Oceans Day – 5 of the worst threats to the oceans, from plastic to noise – World News
We all know how important the oceans are to all life on Earth. Despite being one of the most precious natural resources, the oceans face several threats
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The oceans cover more than 70% of our planet. From cleaning the air and providing livelihoods for millions of people to supporting all marine life, the importance and value of this natural resource is quite difficult to measure.
Most of us know how important the oceans are for all life on Earth, despite this, water bodies remain bombarded with various types of pollution that threaten them.
In honor of World Oceans Day, celebrated annually on June 8, here are the most common and worst threats facing the ocean, from piles of trash to plastic, fertilizer and even noise.
More plastic than fish
Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the oceans each year, the equivalent of nearly 57,000 blue whales,
At this rate, it is predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish in the ocean.
Most of the plastic dumped in the ocean comes from single-use plastic bags, water bottles and straws, which people throw away rather than recycle.
The plastic then ends up polluting our bodies of water and being ingested by marine life such as fish, whales, turtles and seabirds. Since most of it is not biodegradable, the debris settles to the ocean floor, forming giant patches of trash.
There are five such litter areas in the world, the largest of which – the Greater Pacific litter area – is said to be twice the size of Texas, with around 1.8 trillion litter.
Sound waves travel faster and longer distances in water than in air. This means that noise pollution caused by shipping and military activities can harm and even kill marine species.
Many marine mammals like dolphins and whales as well as other sea creatures depend on sound to communicate, mate, navigate and find food.
Thus, faced with the increase in noise generated by man, these species find themselves unable to survive in their habitat.
Noise pollution can also cause cellular damage to creatures like jellyfish and anemones, which are a vital food source for various sea creatures like tuna, sharks and turtles.
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Emissions of toxic by-products from the oil and gas industry have a lasting effect on the oceans, as thousands of people spill oil into the water every year.
These oils remain in the water for decades and seriously damage marine ecosystems irreversibly. For example, oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound still lingers in the waters.
Similarly, the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling disaster in 2010 saw millions of gallons of oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico, devastating coastal communities.
Oil spills are also difficult to clean up, even with the most advanced technologies that only remove a fraction of the oil polluting our oceans.
Climate change is responsible for several threats to life on Earth, including the health of the oceans. Climate change is making the oceans warmer and more acidic.
This in turn makes it harder for marine life to breathe in the water, as dissolved oxygen levels in the water drop.
Too many nutrients
Even nutrients above a certain level can be harmful to the ocean. Agricultural nutrients like nitrogen, when dumped in large amounts, can lead to algae blooms.
When the algae breaks down, oxygen from the surrounding waters is consumed, creating a dead zone that can kill fish and other marine life.