Lethal Effects of Ocean Pollution
The ocean influences weather, human and marine life forms, and the environment in general. On this regard, it merely means that the effects of polluting our oceans can be far-reaching. The increase of ocean pollution is continually affecting the health humans and most importantly the survival of marine life.
Depending on the degree of pollutant concentrations and the relative incidences of pollution, the outcomes can be highly disastrous. The diverse ocean pollutions are drastically depreciating the overall ocean health index and marine life continuity. However much the effects might be hard to determine due to the size of the ocean.
Here are some of the scientifically proven leading effects of ocean pollution.
- Effects of Harmful Materials on Ocean Creatures
Loads of oil dumped into the oceans on yearly basis seriously affects the ocean creatures. Oil can clog the gills and feathers of the ocean creatures, making it hard for them to move or fly without restraint. The presence of harmful materials in the oceans also makes it difficult for marine creatures to maintain their body temperature, reproduce, and feed.
This is because the materials poison the creatures when ingested and contaminates spawning and feeding grounds. The long-term impacts include retarded growth, essential organs and reproductive system damage, behavioral changes, and even death.
- Impacts on Human Health
Ocean pollutants contain a variety of toxic substances especially heavy metals like lead and mercury. Whenever they are ingested by sea creatures then consumed by humans, the consequences can be very detrimental. Consumption of seafood poisoned by lead and mercury has given rise to life-threatening illnesses.
For instance, diseases like hepatitis and cancer have been attributed to consuming seafood that has been poisoned by lead and mercury. Besides, indirect ingestion of heavy metals is associated with disruption of the central nervous system in young children and fetuses.
- Destruction of the Coral Reefs
The coral reefs are destroyed at an alarming rate owing to oil spills and other chemical nutrients. The reefs add aesthetic value and provide for spawning, feeding, and dwelling grounds for numerous sea creatures. When ocean pollution takes place, oxygen levels are reduced, and light penetration into the sea is cut which affects the sea creatures in the reef regions, in turn, affecting the reef environments.
- Depletion of Dissolved Oxygen Content
Majority of the dust materials polluting the oceans settle in the ocean and remain there for years. As the materials degrade, they use oxygen which depletes the dissolved oxygen content thus affecting the chances of marine life continuity. Some pollutants increase the concentration of chemical nutrients which similarly affects the quantity of dissolved oxygen.
As a result, it endangers the life of marine animals and plants, slowly reducing their numbers due to suffocation and premature deaths. These materials also take considerable time to decompose making the oceans contaminated for relatively long durations, ranging from months to hundreds of years.
- Effects on Feeding, Reproduction, and Development of the Sea Creatures
Within the oceanic environments, numerous fish, turtles, mammals, and plants depend on dissolved oxygen, optimum marine temperatures, and healthy nutrients for survival. These conditions must be in the natural state.
However, foreign materials and agricultural and industrial wastes alter the natural oceanic conditions because of the various toxic chemicals and elements contained in them. Some of them accumulate in the vital organs of the marine creatures affecting reproduction and development.
The other factors that come along with the pollutants such as a rise in water temperatures, oceanic acidity, and reduced dissolved oxygen may create dead zones or destroy marine habitats hence affecting feeding, dwelling, and breeding.
- Disruption of the Food Chain
Many sea creatures depend on the natural food chain for survival. When chemicals and other pollutants are carried into the oceans and consumed by the sea creatures, it disrupts the interconnected relationships within the food chain.
It happens when small animals ingest the contaminant elements after which they are eaten by bigger animals, consequently, affecting the entire natural food chain. The creatures intoxicated with substances such as lead or mercury may also be consumed by humans leading to diseases like cancer, reproductive disorders, and even premature deaths.
- Marine Dead Zones and Garbage Patches
The increasing entry of pollutants in the oceans has created very acidic regions, raised water temperatures, promoted the growth of toxic chemical nutrients and plants, and lead to depletion of dissolved oxygen. This has forced marine creatures to move out of certain regions and even completely destroyed their dwelling grounds thereby creating marine dead zones.
Garbage patches have also been formed in some areas especially towards the north Pacific where plastics and other floating materials from around the world float, building a huge waste dump.
Photo by: UN Photo
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