Iam writing this letter because our ocean’s ecosystem is in danger due toplastic pollution. According to the United Nations, approximately 60 to 95percent of the pollution in our oceans is caused by waste, specificallyplastic.
In a study conducted by Plymouth University, they found that at least700 marine species are negatively impacted by plastic pollution andapproximately 100 million marine mammals are killed each year from plasticpollution. That beingthe case, plastics have affected a large amount of marine species. We seeplastic everywhere; plastic bags, drink bottles, Styrofoam, micro plastics, andso on. Plastics also releases differenttypes of toxins that are both harmful to marine animals and humans.
Marineanimals are dying every day because they are ingesting plastic waste. They alsoget tangled up in the debris and slowly die because they are unable to move andescape. Greenpeace reported there are at least 267 different species that havesuffered from the ingestion of plastic and entanglement. One of these species isthe loggerhead sea turtle. The jellyfish are a source of nutrition for thesesea turtles and they have mistaken floating garbage as their source of food. Inaddition, these sea turtles have been found with ropes, soft plastic, andmonofilament lines inside their stomachs. The ingestion of these plastics has ledto blockage inside their gut causing death. According to research more thanhalf of the sea turtles are ingesting plastic.
Seabirds are also facingthe consequences of plastic debris in the oceans. When seabirds use plastic asa source of nutrition, their stomach reduces in volume and they eat lessleading to their death. For instance, Albatrosses are a popular species of birdthat suffer from the consequences of plastic pollution. Observations from CaptainMoore and his team found that the birds were eating plastic and specifically pickingthe red, pink and brown colors. Moore stated that the reason they were pickingthese colors were because the birds thought the plastic pieces were shrimp. Consequently,the ingestion of the plastics killed the albatrosses since the plastic blocked theirintestinal track or stuck to their windpipes causing suffocation.
Furthermore,the smallest pieces of plastic were the most dangerous. Fish and other small marineanimals ingest the plastic. Coral reefs are also effected by marine plasticdebris. Observations from Dr. Mia Hoogenboom said “corals are not veryselective in what they eat and they are sensitive to a range of environmental stressors”(Milman paragraph 4). Researchers found that corals consume plastic at the samerate of their food. The corals require nutrients from their food, so byconsuming plastic they will not get the amount of nutrients they need to survive.
and nets get caught on corals; waves cause coral heads to break off because ofthe plastic debris. An eight-year study insoutheast Alaska and British Colombia recorded that about 388 sea lions areentangled by plastic garbage. The sea lions get plastic bands stuck aroundtheir necks or rubber bands. With time the plastic that gets stuck around theirnecks or their flippers becomes embedded into their bodies causing infectionsor death. For example, the harbor seal isgreatly affected by the plastic pollution in our oceans. These seals do notmigrate, they live in the same area all year round. The seals are considered sentinel species. Ifthe seals all become sick, so will the waters.
In 2005, a studied was conductedto show that harbor seals of South Puget Sound were 7 times more affected thanof the seals living in Canada’s Georgia Strait. Biologist had used the tissueof living and dead seals to found out that there was a high number of pesticides,PCB, and PBDE. As a result, these toxinsare passed down by generation throughout the milk of the mother to their offspring’s. Researchers found that the containmentsaffected the immune system of the harbor seals. Consequently, seals become exposedto parasitic infections, leading to death.
That beingthe case, for more than 50 years’ plastic has continued to increase in highnumbers. Plastic is a durable material that takes a long time to degrade, as aresult it does not go anywhere and piles up into other garbage, the majority turnsinto micro plastics. Micro plastics are small pieces of plastic.
In fact, smallfish like anchovies’ mistake micro plastics as their food. Large pieces of plasticsare broken down and in the process, they collect algae, which makes the plasticsmell like food for the fish. Anchovies are food for whales, seals, seabirds,and people. Consequently, not only do marine animals consume fish with plastic insidethem, but we do as well. One of these harmful chemicals is dioxins. Big fatfish like tuna, or swordfish have the highest levels of this toxin.
Rochmanstated that “plastics- when they end up in the ocean- are a sponge forchemicals already out there” (Barclay, paragraph 7). Most of the fish with theseharsh chemicals were found to have tumors and liver issues. Most marineanimals are eating plastic debris because according to research the plasticsmells like food.
A team of researchers called the Savoca’s team placed plasticdebris on buoys and left the plastic there for three weeks. When they returnedSavoca stated that “They reeked of sulfur” (Parker, paragraph 13). When algae breakdown it releases a sulfur order known as dimethyl sulfide. The sea birds that searchfor krill know the sulfur order will take them to their food source. So, algae flourishon the plastic debris in the ocean, creating the sulfur like smell the seabirds and other marine spices are attracted to. If plastic did not emit thesame odor as sulfur, the marine animals would not have been attracted to theplastic, but sadly that is not the case. The Great Pacific GarbagePatch is the area of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre on the Pacific Ocean.It explains that that specific area is an oceanic desert, where there is a lotof phytoplankton (what plankton is made of, it covers most of the oceanicwaters) but not many mammals or big fish live there.
It is rare seeing fishersor sail man on this area due to the shortage of the resources. Other thanphytoplankton there is a lot of trash, bags and plastic. The Great PacificGarbage Patch is well known for being the largest landfill in the oceans and wecan easily see it floating in the water. This landfill unintentionally created twobig areas of accumulating garbage, these are the Western and Eastern Pacificgarbage patch. The Eastern can be seen between Hawaii and the state ofCalifornia, sometimes it’s speculated than it has two times the size of Texas. Onthe other hand, the Western one is connected between Japan and Hawaii. About80% of the plastic garbage comes from land in North America and Asia. Trashfrom North America takes about six years to reach the garbage patch.
Plastictrash from Japan takes about a year to reach the garbage patch. About 20% ofthe plastic debris comes from boaters, large cargo ships, and offshore oil rigs.They either dump or lose the plastic garbage into the ocean. Plastic bottles aremade of polycarbonate, a hard component that is being produced constantly inthe world due to the enormous demand that it has. Most of the garbage is not biodegradabletherefore, the plastic debris just floats on the top and accumulates more andmore. Another importantissue would be tap water vs. bottle water.
People mistakenly think that justbecause we pay a higher price for bottle this is better. Being the agenciesthat revise the quality standards most of the time more rigorous for tap waterthat bottle water. Tap water has as many vitamins and minerals as bottle waterhas. It is sad to know that 95% of the water that we consume daily goes awayintact without being touched. Instead of using bottled water we could start drinkingtap water because it helps the environment reduce the amount of plastic thatends up in our seas.
Have we ever thought about where does go a simple bottleof water that we throw on the ocean? Most of the time it doesn’t wear of andsinks, it stays on the ocean surface. When all this trash is accumulated on thesurface on big amounts it tangles on the neck of turtles and more animals. Thisis an easy way to kill an environment.
In conclusion, plasticpollution is destroying our oceans little by little. Eventually what is left ofour beautiful oceans will be gone because of all the plastic pollution we have goingon today. In a couple of years, the marine animals that we all know today, onlyhalf of them will exist and the other half will become extinct because of allthe plastic debris. Also, our coral reefs will no longer have the beautifulcolors that we see on them and they will eventually all die out.
The best thingwe can try to do is volunteer at beaches to clean up plastic debris. The Clean Upthe World program engages 400 million people from 120 different countries toclean up our beaches. Furthermore, The NOAA cleans up plastic debris around theNorth Pacific in open water. As difficult as open sea water cleanups are theNOAA still manages to try and pick up as much debris as possible to help the environment.As a society, we need to start educating more and more children about the dangerour ocean is in. One individual can make a lifetime of differences.
On theother hand, recycling could also be another way to help stop the spread ofplastic debris in our oceans. With our oceans should be protected and we shouldtry to eliminate the use of plastic in our everyday lives.