Marine Environment Depletion by Plastic Debris
Marine life has come under severe environmental threat as a result of human activities and pollution of sea water. Plastic ingestion in oceans has endangered several species of aquatic fish as they are now found entangled with plastic, plastic materials inside their bodies or washed ashore beaches in large numbers. The issue keeps getting worse each year as climate changes and human activities jeopardize biodiversity. Research indicates that human activities may have increased extinction rates to 10,000 times the natural rate.
Humans have made deleterious effects on the environment in various ways, including oceans warming up, waste dump and climate change. Plastic debris has become a global threat to marine environment. Since plastic is lightweight and cheap, it moves across the sea water easily, ingested by aquatic animals that choke on it and die. Since it is durable, it continues to be manufactured even though few countries have imposed laws to ban plastic usage. Plastic may disperse over great distances and may persist for centuries.
The problem of plastic debris is mostly overlooked because of different species of marine life, most of which continue to be discovered in different regions around the world and the vastness of oceans. Scientists have not estimated the amount of plastic that reaches fish, but evidence indicates that a substantial amount of it kills marine life.
Merchant ships, boats and fishing are the greatest sources of plastic debris in oceans. They may get into the oceans if beachgoers dump waste or are careless in plastic usage. Plastic could also reach the sea through sewerage systems. The largest amount comes from industrial areas that dump toxic waste into rivers.
Marine life ingests plastic and gets trapped in packages, ropes or nets. Marine environment continues to face an ever-increasing threat because plastic consumption continues to rise. Research has shown the number of seabirds ingesting plastic or seabirds found with plastic particles in their stomachs has increased in recent years. A sizeable amount of plastic also accumulates on the ocean floor. Furthermore, evidence may not estimate the exact number of species that ingest plastic because they are eaten by larger fish. Seabirds collect plastic particles thinking that they are prey.
When plastic accumulates inside stomachs, it reduces meal consumption by reducing storage volume and inhibiting feeding stimulus. Moreover, sea turtles are prone to swallowing polythene bags. The toxins in their bodies can significantly impact their survival and diversity. The chemicals that fish consume get transmitted in the food chain thus, harming human health.
Further research needs to be conducted to examine the extent to which pollution affects marine environment. Countries need to collaborate in combating climate change and imposing fines on companies and people who are found polluting the environment.
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