Our oceans make up a large percentage of our Earth. The ocean covers approximately seventy percent of the Earth’s surface and is home to about ninety-five percent of the world’s known species. Much of the ocean has not yet been explored. But more importantly, we have only “one” Earth and only “one” ocean. Humans produce waste and they are not always considerate of how they dispose of their waste. Humans also consume a lot of products that come in plastic packaging.
When humans dispose of plastic materials, they don’t all go to the landfill. Some plastics get into our waterways and wind up in our oceans. Plastic in the ocean is bad. Ocean plastics can harm aquatic life in a number of ways.
Plastics pose a threat to marine organisms and can also have negative impacts on humans and the environment. Plastics will threaten all forms of life, not just aquatic life. Due to a poor combination of laws, regulations, and human actions, plastics end up in our waterways, which is not good news.
To better highlight the complications plastics have on marine organisms, one must consider that a sea turtle will not know the difference between a plastic product and their food. Plastic bags and jellyfish look similar when in the water. For example, a sea turtle may think it sees a jellyfish, so he/she goes and eats the jellyfish. Little did that sea turtle known, he/she choked on a plastic bag and died. On a similar note, sea turtles are an extremely threatened species and ocean plastics are a significant contributor to the loss of sea turtles and other marine life.
Abandoned fishing nets and microplastics are also very dangerous to ocean life. These nets can appear invisible to marine life. Animals can get caught in these nets and suffer to death. Microplastics are the result of plastics breaking down over time and can pose very serious health complications to marine life. Microplastics look like food to ocean organisms. Once microplastics are consumed by animals, they can harm the animals by damaging their body and/or blocking their airways. Just like all ocean plastics, microplastics are also very hazardous to the ocean!
Humans can start to make a change for the ocean’s good by reducing the number of single use plastics they use. Humans can also choose to use reusable cups, bags, plates, and so many other items. By using reusable items, less plastic waste is created and that means less plastics are at risk of ending up in our oceans!
Overall humans should strive to avoid using plastics in excess. Plastics are a way for humans to live with more convenience. However, plastics are not always disposed of in the best ways. Plastics often wind up in our storm drains, creeks, and ultimately our “one” ocean. Ocean plastics threaten the livelihoods of aquatic organisms and can make marine animals/plants have a slow, painful death. Humans must remember that they are ultimately in control of plastic pollution and they should be more considerate of their consumption and waste handling methods. Humans must also remember the ocean is a source of food and oxygen for themselves too. Therefore, humans should care about the impacts of ocean plastics!