Abstract: The great trash pile in our oceans has been a problem for a long time because in the past people used to not care as much about what happened to our waters. As the years went on humans began to see the decrease in some of the marine life in the water and the cause was due to the amount of trash that lingered in the water, There are micro particles of plastic getting found in fish and other marine life that washes up on shore. Most of this trash is coming from the shore and it is because people are not properly disposing of their garbage. There are even traces of plastic ending up in our Great Lakes. We can reverse this issue, but it is going to take a long time and an effort from the entire world. Humans need to see the dangers to marine life and even themselves.
Introduction: There has always been a problem with trying to preserve our oceans, but in recent years it has become a greater problem due to the way that humans are disposing their trash. There have been issues with the climate being affected, the decrease in the population of sea life, and even our own health. Most people in today’s society know about the problem that is occuring in the ocean, but do not know how to help, and the problem just continues to grow. Is there really ever going to be a solution to this problem? There are many resources that show the issues in how the climate is being affected, how there is a decrease in sea life population, and our health. These resources are talk about the way that the climate will begin to affect us in the future and begin taking away living organisms that are trying to survive living in trash.
Body: There may be ideas out there on who is it to blame for the debris in the first place, and this answer is everyone on Earth. According to researchers names Justin Leous and Neal Parry, “80% of the debris originates on land. Stormwater runoff, ineffective sewage treatment facilities, and landfills are primary sources of the terrestrial debris” (Leous and Parry 2005). This is something that needs to be noticed by everyone around the world, because these places are all somewhere that we can control and make sure they are properly taken care of. When we throw something away, and it does not make it all the way to the trash it most likely will end up in our seas. There are many different types of trash that can be found in the oceans, but according to Dulika Rathnayake, OECD Environment Directorate states, “The litter is mostly made up of plastic, which is not biodegradable: upward of between 5 million and 12.7 million metric tonnes of the 300 million tonnes plastic being produced globally per year are being dumped into our oceans” (Rathnayake 2017).
Plastic that is being dumped into the seas is causing problems with the marine animals and the marine life that has to deal with the trash floating around or worry about accidentally eating it. Humans are linked to the change in the seas, and the way that the environment under the sea is being changed. Where as we need to be trying to figure out how we can change this because we depend on what the ecosystem has to supply for us. “Marine environments have played an intimate part of human history. Yet, they remain elusive places, often seen as a realm beyond society” (Clark and Longo 2016). We have so much that we have yet to discover and yet we may never get to experience this due to how the pollution is becoming such a major problem.
The government has tried to step in and do something about the pollution of the water. The US commission’s had 16 members that were put on a case of trying to fix the problem (Chasis and Safina 2004). This is showing that there is people that are out there that are trying to fix the pollution issue. There are many ways that pollution can end up falling into the ocean. According to John Tibbetts, “Lost and discarded nets and lines from fishing vessels are important contributors to marine debris, especially in heavily fished areas. These vessels also lose plastic floats, traps, pots, and other gear. Other sea-based sources of plastic pollution include oil and gas platforms, aquaculture facilities, and cargo ships that lose containers to the sea” (Tibbetts 2015). There is not just plastic that is polluting the waters from us as people, but the oil and gas ships that are always plowing through the waters everyday, all year long.
There are many beaches that are getting polluted due to the garbage coming in from the sea. Chris Renaud and Franklin Hoke did research on the beaches that are getting trashed and said,” Commercial and recreational boating and fishing were responsible for 5 percent of the identifiable debris- 14 different cruise lines were identified by their trash-while medical and sewage wastes remained steady at nearly 1 percent of the total trash collected” (Hoke and Renaud 2018). This just shows that the amount of pollution that gets into the seas from land is just as bad as it is when it comes back onto from the sea. Cruises are getting people to pay all this money to go on these trips when they are ruining the best part of the whole trip by polluting it. There has been research that has been done on how there are storms that are occurring on the ocean floor due to radioactive waste that is getting dumped into the waters that are supposed to be “safe”. “A research team from Florida State University, Dr. George Weatherly, discovered strong and changeable currents at the ocean bottom that have scoured ocean floors and have kicked enormous clouds of sediment high off the ocean bottom” (Environment 1983). The pollution that we are putting in the ocean is beginning to change the way that the floor is being shape and the marine life that is on the ocean floor. This problem is all around the world in every sea and ocean that is out there. Patricia De Joie did research on what the rest of the of the world is doing to try and fix their waste management, there were fourteen countries that she focused on: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States. Each of these countries did something to manage their waste, most of them do not have anything saying that the waste dumping is a problem, but they all do have something in their laws that talks about waste management (De Joie 1977). So the problem is not being enforced throughout the entire world meaning the rest of the world does not see the major issue that is at hand.
There is a giant patch of garbage that has piled up in the North Pacific Subtropical area. “In 2011 in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre there is microplastic that is constantly circulating and it constantly converges and diverges in a 5000 square kilometer space” (Ottum 2014). This patch is taking up a large amount of area and it is made of small particles of plastic which is not as easy to clean up because of how small the particles are. The small microplastic pieces are most of the particles that marine life swallow. There is not just a problem with the marine life swallowing or eating the microplastic the birds that fly over the sea patch end up with the particles in their system. Christina Gerhardt had stated, “Ongoing series of photographs of plastic inside the remains of dead baby albatrosses. The photographs were taken on Midwoll Atoll, 2,000 miles away from any continental land mass” (Gerhardt 2018). The cause to this researchers think leads to the garbage patch that is in the ocean.
Most of the particles that are found in bodies of these animals all leads back to the mini particles in the ocean. There are benefits that people can get from helping pick up the garbage and recycle it. In Northeast Asia the pollution issue is really big involving the oil. This region is beginning to get used to the fact that the pollution is an issue, but they want to fix it. “Thus, a legally binding multilateral regime for marine pollution prevention and response, which would oblige the regional countries to cooperate, has yet to be established in Northeast Asia. A regional program of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Paci?c Region(NOWPAP), 2 has ?lled the void” (Kim 2015). There are environmental companies that are around the world trying to make a difference and change the way that the pollution is affecting the ocean, but not everyone is seeing a problem with this issue.
The United Nations is an organization that is there to help around the world because it is not just in the Northwest Pacific Region. The marine life is beginning to make taking the trash out of the sea harder due to them creating it as their homes. The animals are beginning to use the debris as a shelter. “Many types of animals use marine debris as a mobile home, particularly bryozoans, barnacles, polychaete worms, hydroids and molluscs, and I found that among the most numerous were animals with cosmopolitan distributions” (Barnes 2002). The marine animals are beginning to become custom to the debris that is floating around in the water and are beginning to make it a normal thing to live amongst when it can be hurting them without them even knowing.
There are findings that are beginning to be a common occurrence in fish. Researchers are beginning to see that there are micro particles of plastic that are getting traced in the system of fish. Fish are one of Earth’s largest marine group species and , “Plastic particles are reported in the gut content of several species of fish globally including from pelagic habitats, estuaries, and bays” (Rochman et al. 2013). The amount of plastic that is found in these fish is not a good because these are also a food resource of us that is being affected.
The problem is not only affecting the waters of our oceans, but they are also affecting the Great Lakes. The problem of the pollution that ends up in our lakes begins with us, “When clothes are washed, thousands of synthetic fibres from polyester, nylon and fleece break away and go down the drain. They too end up in nearby water bodies where they may pose an even larger threat to aquatic life than microbeads do. While a fish may ingest a plastic bead, by 24 to 36 hours later that piece has likely been excreted. But stringy fibres become entangled in a fish’s digestive tract, making it easier for toxins to leach” (Reeves 2015). The way that we wash our clothes is ending up in our waters causing more of a problem than the plastic that is floating around. The microbeads that are also in our facial scrubs are the source of plastic that is being found in these animals. The plastic is spread out throughout the entire Earth and is ingested by many different marine animals such as: cetaceans, seabirds, and marine reptiles. “These impacts are further exacerbated by the persistence of floating plastics, ranging from resin pellets to large derelict nets, docks and boats that float across oceans and transport microbial communities, algae, invertebrates, and fish to non-native regions, providing further rationale to monitor (and take steps to mitigate) the global distribution and abundance of plastic pollution” (Eriksen et al. 2014). Many of the cases of debris comes from around docks or the nets that are used to catch marine life. The netting is very dangerous for the animals to ingest for it does not go through their digestive system very well.
Conclusion: Although there are many different ways to help stop this problem it has gotten so big it will take the entire world to step up and make a change. The amount of pollution and plastic that is digested by these marine animals is being to take a toll on their well-being. We as humans need to see this and try and make a change due to some of these animals being a resource in our lives. If people decide that they want to fix this issue they will also need to change the way that they take care of our own bodies as well because the way people use face scrubs or even wash their clothes is causing problem within the marine environment. Humans need to pick up their trash and find out where it is really going and the dumping of trash in our oceans needs to change as soon as possible.
Barnes D. 2002. Invasions by marine life on plastic debris. Nature. Vol. 416 Issue 6883, p808. 2p.
Chasis S, Safina C. 2004. Saving the Oceans. Issues in Science and Technology. Vol. 21 Issue 1, p37-44. 8p.
Clark B, Longo SB. 2016. An Ocean of Troubles: Advancing Marine Sociology. Social Security Bulletin. Vol. 76 Issue 4, p463-479. 17p.
De Joie PK. 1977. Wastes Around the World. Environment. Vol. 19 Issue 7, p30. 6p. 7 Black and White Photographs.
Erickson M, Mason S.. 2015. Plastic Particle Counts in the Great Lakes. Alternative Journal. Vol. 41 Issue 2, p11-11. 1/4p.
Erickson Z et al. 2014. Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea. Plos One. Vol. 9 (12), pp. e111913.
Florida State University. 1983. Storms on the Ocean Floor. Environment. Vol. 25 Issue 4, p23. 1/5p.
Gerhardt C. 2018. Pacific and Plastic: Midway Atoll, Plastiglomerate, and Love of Place. Mosaic: An Interdisciplinary Critical Journal. Vol. 51 Issue 3, 123.
Hoke F, Renaud C. 1991. Who is Trashing the Beaches? Environment. Vol. 33 Issue 9, p21-21. 1/3p.
Kim SK. 2015. Marine Pollution Response in Northeast Asia and the NOWPAP Regime. Ocean Development and International Law. Vol. 46 Issue 1, p17-32. 16p. 6 Charts, 1 Map.
Leous JP, Parry NP. 2005. Who is Responsible for Marine Debris? The International Politics of Cleaning Our Oceans. Journal of International Affairs. Vol. 59 Issue 1, p 257-269. 13p. 1 Chart, 3 Graphs.
Ottum J. 2014. Sounds Like Garbage: Paddling through an imaginary island of trash toward a new sonic ecology. Social Alternatives. Vol. 33 Issue 1, p52-59. 8p. 3 Black and White Photographs.
Rathnayake D. 2017. “Oceanfills”: Yet another dumping ground. OECD Observer. Issue 312, p33-34. 2p.
Rochman C et al. 2013. Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress. Scientific Reports. p1-7, 7p
Tibbetts J. 2015. Managing Marine Plastic Pollution. Environmental Health Perspectives. Vol. 123 Issue 4, pA90-A93. 4p. 1 Color Photograph, 1 Chart.