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Ecology Series : The Ocean

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

By : Gail Murzello

It is no secret that humans are one of the main causes of global warming. In this three part series about global warming, we will cover all the ways humans have contributed to global warming as well as ways to help stop global warming. This first part is about a place we know so little about: The Ocean. We will discuss the main reasons why humans have harmed to the ocean.


Picture 1: Showing amount of rubbish at the beach


Habitat Destruction


Habitat destruction is one of the main impacts on ocean habitats usually due to drilling or mining of the ocean floor. This is to collect concrete and other raw materials required for urban buildings. This process uproots coral and other plants living on the seabed. Due to rising ocean temperatures from human activities, corals in the ocean have been experiencing bleaching which makes them inhabitable for sponges, clams, crabs, sea stars, sea urchins, and many species of fish.



Picture 2: Coral bleaching on ocean floor


Oil spills


Oil spills are one of the more common reasons for ocean pollution. I believe that it is the most well-known reason as I remember learning about it in primary school. Thankfully due to advancement in the maritime industry, safer ways to transport oil have been discovered. This is a very good thing as the annual count of oil spills have significantly decreased since the 70’s which had almost 25 oil spills that year. Oil destroys the ability of fur-bearing mammals like sea otters to insulate their body heat. Water repellency of birds' feathers are also affected; this makes these creatures vulnerable to the harsh environment. As a result, both birds and mammals to die from hypothermia.



Picture 3: Sea turtle affected by oil spill


Plastic Pollution


Plastic pollution is one of the most hazardous things that affects the ocean. We always hear stories about sea turtles mistaking plastic thrown in the ocean as food, resulting in them choking or getting tangled in the pieces and drowning. But do you know how much plastic is actually thrown into the ocean? Nearly 12.7 million tonnes! That averages to about 8 million pieces of plastic thrown into the ocean daily. Scientists believe that there is so much plastic in the ocean that the fish we consume may be contaminated with microplastics from their environment and food. Apparently in recent years it has been more common and almost all fish carry such particles with them.




While we're on the subject of what we consume, have you ever wondered about how the seafood we eat is caught? Unfortunately, the seafood we eat is most likely caught in an unethical way.


Overfishing.


Overfishing is catching too many fish at once, this causes the breeding population to become too depleted to recover quickly. Often, overfishing involves wasteful types of commercial fishing that haul in massive amounts of unwanted fish and even other animals which get discarded in the end. This method of fishing also destroys plants and coral at the bottom of the sea as they get caught in the net and get dragged as the boat travels. This causes serious damage to the ocean floor and serious injuries to the animals that aren't meant to be caught.



That's all for the ocean! Remember to always be cautious of the things you use and consider how it may affects the planet. Next we will talk about rainforest!


For more reading visit:

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/programs/geh/geh_newsletter/2021/2/articles/new_study_finds_ocean_pollution_a_threat_to_human_health.cfm

https://www.texasdisposal.com/blog/ocean-pollution-causes-effects-and-prevention/

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/lesson/human-impacts-world-ocean/




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