The Devastating Effects of Plastic in Our Oceans

There some skeptics in the world who do not believe the plastic pollution problem is as bad as people keep saying it is. There are even more who do not know the problem exists. Ignorance will only slow down the process of reducing plastic pollution, and it is our duty to share our knowledge with others. Then they can help us taken the necessary steps to reduce our plastic consumption, reuse what we have, and recycle what we can no longer use.

To shed some light on the severity of the plastic pollution problem, here are the devastating effects of having plastic in our oceans.

Dead Whales Keeping Washing Ashore

It seems as if there is always a news story online that describes another dead whale that has washed ashore. Here the thing though: the more plastic we use, the more whales and other wildlife will die. Just within the last week, a sick pilot whale was washed up on a beach in Thailand. It spit out five plastic bags. People made an effort to treat and save the poor animal for days, but it eventually died.

After an autopsy, they discovered that the pilot whale had over 80 plastic bags in its stomach, along with other plastic objects. It amounted to over 17 pounds of garbage in its stomach. The whale likely thought the plastic bags were food, but the plastic in its stomach prevented it from finding real food.

More Than Whales Are Affected

The plastic that sits on the surface of the water prevents light from reaching plankton and algae—organisms that cannot survive without photosynthesis. This causes the organisms to die, which creates a food shortage for the fish. As fish die, other animals up the food chain will suffer, all because one part of the ecosystem failed.

If only that was the only problem our fish and marine life faced. Many fish also think that microplastics are food. They eat the plastic, which makes them sick. The other animals that eat the fish, like bigger fish and birds, consume microplastics along with the fish. This works its way up the food chain to us. We are consuming microplastics because our fish are consuming them.

When animals consume plastic, it can cause intestinal blockages, abrasion and punctures in the internal organs, and starvation because they are too full of plastic to eat. Plastics can also carry harmful chemicals and leach BPA into the animal’s body. The worst part? We have caused this.

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Plastic Forms Garbage Patches in Our Oceans

Charles Moore discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997. He expected to see a beautiful ocean, but only saw plastic as far as he could see. Unfortunately, it is not the only garbage patch in our oceans. Ocean currents move the plastic and other garbage together to form giant patches all over the world. There is a smaller patch in the Pacific, as well as one in each of the other oceans.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 1.6 million square kilometers, which is twice the size of Texas and three times the size of France. This has happened because 2.41 million metric tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans each year.

What Is the Solution?

The best thing you can do to reduce plastic pollution is to stop using single-use plastics. Find green alternatives. This will beautiful our land and return the marine ecosystems back to normal—meaning our wildlife will live long, healthy lives again.

Image Source: Pixabay

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Lacey Jolley

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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