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An overview of the ocean waters and the concern over increasing ocean pollution

Plastics in our Oceans

Seas of garbage Solid garbage also makes its way to the ocean. Plastic bags, balloons, glass bottles, shoes, packaging material — if not disposed of correctly, almost everything we throw away can reach the sea.

Plastic garbage, which decomposes very slowly, is often mistaken for food by marine animals. High concentrations of plastic material, particularly plastic bags, have been found blocking the breathing passages and stomachs of many marine species, including whales, dolphins, seals, puffins, and turtles.

  • Once the animal dies and decomposes the plastic is released to continue causing harm;
  • Toxic chemicals Almost every marine organism, from the tiniest plankton to whales and polar bears, is contaminated with man-made chemicals, such as pesticides and chemicals used in common consumer products;
  • Balancing the protection of the marine environment with intensive use of the oceans is also a difficult task;
  • Over the last 60 years civilization has created a legacy of plastic debris that exists in even the most remote and unpopulated shorelines of the planet;
  • However, the extraction of mineral resources from the ocean floor and climate change are confronting the international law of the sea with new challenges;
  • These animals are in turn eaten by larger animals, which can travel large distances with their even further increased chemical load.

Plastic six-pack rings for drink bottles can also choke marine animals. This garbage can also come back to shore, where it pollutes beaches and other coastal habitats. Sewage disposal In many parts of the world, sewage flows untreated, or under-treated, into the ocean. This sewage can also lead to eutrophication. In addition, it can cause human disease and lead to beach closures.

Toxic chemicals Almost every marine organism, from the tiniest plankton to whales and polar bears, is contaminated with man-made chemicals, such as pesticides and chemicals used in common consumer products.

For centuries, the oceans have been a convenient dumping ground for waste generated on land. This continued until the 1970s, with dumping at sea the accepted practise for disposal of nearly everything, including toxic material such as pesticides, chemical weapons, and radioactive waste.

Dumping of the most toxic materials was banned by the London Dumping Convention in 1972, and an amended treaty in 1996 the London Convention further restricted what could be dumped at sea. However, there are still the problems of already-dumped toxic material, and even the disposal of permitted substances at sea can be a substantial environmental hazard.

Chemicals can escape into water, soil, and air during their manufacture, use, or disposal, as well as from accidental leaks or fires in products containing these chemicals. Once in the environment, they can travel for long distances in air and water, including ocean currents. People once assumed that the ocean was so large that all pollutants would be diluted and dispersed to safe levels.

Marine problems: Pollution

Tiny animals at the bottom of the food chain, such as plankton in the oceans, absorb the chemicals as they feed. Because they do not break down easily, the chemicals accumulate in these organisms, becoming much more concentrated in their bodies than in the surrounding water or soil.

  1. Evidence is mounting that a number of man-made chemicals can cause serious health problems - including cancer, damage to the immune system, behavioural problems, and reduced fertility.
  2. Implications for Humanity Plastic pollution could reach food consumed by humans. Sewage disposal In many parts of the world, sewage flows untreated, or under-treated, into the ocean.
  3. Evidence is mounting that a number of man-made chemicals can cause serious health problems - including cancer, damage to the immune system, behavioural problems, and reduced fertility.
  4. However, there are still the problems of already-dumped toxic material, and even the disposal of permitted substances at sea can be a substantial environmental hazard. Plastic garbage, which decomposes very slowly, is often mistaken for food by marine animals.
  5. The wealthy industrialized countries will be able to defend themselves from the encroaching waters for a time, albeit with massive technological effort. The warming of ocean water could lead to a destabilization of solid methane deposits on the sea floor.

These organisms are eaten by small animals, and the concentration rises again. These animals are in turn eaten by larger animals, which can travel large distances with their even further increased chemical load.

  • Plastic garbage, which decomposes very slowly, is often mistaken for food by marine animals;
  • Designed to catch and kill fish it presents a lethal obstacle for animals that encounter it;
  • Designed to catch and kill fish it presents a lethal obstacle for animals that encounter it;
  • The growing threats of piracy and terrorism could also compromise shipping;
  • As rainwater washes into gutters and storm drains, it carries with it what humans have left behind;
  • In addition, it can cause human disease and lead to beach closures.

Animals higher up the food chain, such as seals, can have contamination levels millions of times higher than the water in which they live. And polar bears, which feed on seals, can have contamination levels up to 3 billion times higher than their environment.

People become contaminated either directly from household products or by eating contaminated seafood and animal fats.

  • Changes in ecosystems usually have multiple natural causes, but increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and global warming are now playing a critical role;
  • However, the extraction of mineral resources from the ocean floor and climate change are confronting the international law of the sea with new challenges;
  • Beside heat, they take up large amounts of the carbon dioxide emitted by humankind.

Evidence is mounting that a number of man-made chemicals can cause serious health problems - including cancer, damage to the immune system, behavioural problems, and reduced fertility.

Old shoes and plastic bags littering one of the beaches near Tabarka, Tunisia.