Updated: Apr 16
As there is an increase in population, so does the amount of waste that people produce. People always wish to have easily disposable products such as soda cans or water bottles. The great numbers of such population have increased the rate at which plastic pollution spreads worldwide.
Plastics are made up of very toxic pollutants, thus destroying the environment in the water, air, and land lace and negatively affects the environment. Plastics are essential products, but they are made of dangerous compounds that can lead to different pollution.
Plastic pollution happens when plastics are collected; plastic pollution is the most widespread problem affecting the marine environment. Each year, millions of plastics go into the ocean, causing many tragedies for marine life. Plastics cannot be avoided in today's life because it is used to make everything starting from toiletries, clothing, computer, furniture, and even cars.
Plastics are made to last for more extended periods; therefore, they do not decompose quickly. Depending on the type, plastics last for very many years before it disintegrates in the landfill. Unless plastics are burned, which will result in air pollution, they will continue to exist for so many years after they are manufactured. When plastics are led into the ocean, its effects can be felt for a long time.
More than three hundred million tons of plastics are usually produced every year, and the number keeps on rising even today. Among all the plastics manufactured, a minimal number is usually recycled while the rest is disposed of and frequently produced. This is so because many plastics produced are meant for just single-use; this means it is purposed to be disposed of after serving its purpose.
Such kind of plastics includes straws, plastics carrier bags, and even water bottles. Because many plastics are meant to be used once and disposed of after that, they are frequently produced. This increases the amount of waste going to the landfills, increasing the amount that inevitably goes into the surrounding.
The oceans always serve as the giant sink for global pollution. Some plastics found in the oceans are from ships that lose cargo at sea. Some left alone fishing nets are a significant source that contributes around 10% of plastics waste found at sea.
Oceans serve as endpoints of so many rivers that carry many different types of dirt and rubbish from landfills into the sea. The primary source of plastics found in the oceans is land-based from urban and storm runoff; sewer overflows, visitors from the beach, inappropriate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, illegal dumping, and even construction. The plastics can also originate from the fishing industries, aquaculture, and nautical activities.
Plastic waters get into the seas and oceans from the sewage system. Pieces of cotton made from plastics and disposable wet wipes are flushed in large quantities daily, leading to the pollution of the oceans and hurting marine life.
The plastic pollution impact on marine life that is remarkably noticeable and disturbing is ingestion, suffocation, and many saltwater species' entanglement. Marine wildlife like seabirds, whales, fishes, and turtles always imagine plastics to prey, and many die due to starvation since their stomachs are full of plastics. They suffer from lacerations, infections, not able to swim well, and injuries from inside. Plastics that usually float contribute to the spread of invasive marine organisms and bacteria that interfere with the ecosystem.
Many turtles in the sea have ingested plastics, resulting in starvation as they thought they had eaten enough since their bellies are full. Plastic pollution in many beaches is so pervading that it affects turtles' reproduction rate by interfering with sand incubation temperatures.
Young turtles are more exposed to danger since they do not choose to eat like their elder ones. Turtles ingest around fourteen pieces of plastics, and this has highly increased their death rates.
Plastic pollution on marine life leads to the death of a million seabirds within a single year. When seabirds consume plastics, it fills their stomachs leading to starvation sometimes. Many seabirds are found dead with their bellies full of plastic waste. Plastic pollution on marine life affects small and large creatures from dolphins, seabirds, whales to even little seahorses.
Plastic pollution also affects marine lives through devastating wounds. Fish and aquatic birds are being entangled in plastic bags and plastic drink rings, leading to painful injuries, strangulation, and even drowning. Birds, mammals, and reptiles staying in the sea but still require air to breathe can be entangled to the extension of not receiving oxygen and later drown.
Plastics have been caused death to the coral reefs, which are an essential part of the ocean ecosystems and habitat for many species. Plastics have bacteria that block light and oxygen from penetrating the coral. Coral that has mixed with plastic has a high chance of being diseased.
In summary, people use plastics each day in the form of bags and packages. Much of these plastics are thrown into the ocean using different ways. Animals die every day because of the poisonous plastic found in the oceans.
Many plastics do not decompose; they stay forever, although it grows smaller and potentially dangerous as time goes by. This results in killing organisms slowly for a long time, interrupting with species and other species in its food web. A lot of marine animals die every year because of plastic pollution in the ocean. Some of them are trapped by plastics floating, while others confuse the plastics with being food. Some parts of the sea have more plastic than natural prey at the surface.
Plastics are impacting oceans negatively every day, but we can reduce this in various ways. The animals need you to act responsibly for their survival. You can’t do anything now to reverse caused by plastics to marine life, but there are many things you can engage in to reduce the plastic effects on the sea animals.