How Marine Pollution Affects Sea Life [The Shocking Truth]
By 2050, by weight, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.
Just take a look at this infographic provided by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
So How Did We Get Here?
The Industrial Age gave us benefits. Life-changing ones. It’s part of the reason why you’re able to read this now.
But there have been consequences. And we’re still learning what they are today. The principal consequence has been pollution.
Did you know 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities?
(Check out this infographic below by Conserve Energy Future)
How does the ocean get polluted? Let’s take a look at the different marine pollution sources.
Marine Pollution Sources:
We’ve all seen the nasty pictures from oil spills.
They’re devastating towards marine life. Remember the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico?
Here are the lives that were injured or killed by it:
25,900 Marine Mammals
6,165 Sea Turtles
Unknown Number of Fish
82,000 Birds of 102 Species
Oil spills are only responsible for 12% of the oil entering the sea. More than twice that much comes from cities and industries.
How? Through waste runoff. (more on that later)
2. Fertilizer Runoff/Eutrophication
There has been a surge in seaweed production lately. This is due to a process called “eutrophication”.
It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t.
Take a look at the infographic above.
What does it show?
Excess nitrogen and phosphorus entering the ocean.
Where does it come from?
Fertilizer, pesticide, and animal waste runoff from farms and similar industries.
Why does this matter?
Because it causes excess phytoplankton growth. Before you know it, there’s a thick layer of seaweed growing on top. So much so, sunlight and oxygen cannot enter past it.
Life in the sea still requires sunlight and oxygen. Therefore, these areas become what are known as “dead zones”.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Garbage keeps finding its way to the sea. Some of it decomposes quickly. But…most of it does not. Including plastics.
Plastic kills millions of sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.
4. Toxic Chemicals
It may sound crazy now. But there was a time where the ocean was considered a dumpster.
Scientists thought it was large enough that we could throw anything into it safely. We’re talking pesticides, chemical weapons, and even radioactive waste. Yikes.
Thankfully, that begun to change in the 1970’s.
However, we’re still feeling the effects.
Today, almost every marine organism is contaminated with man-made chemicals.
Every year companies try mining the ocean for silver, gold, copper, cobalt and zinc.
This creates sulfide deposits. The result? Increased toxicity in the region.
Marine Pollution Affects Sea Life:
I know, I know. That’s difficult to look at. Painful even.
But you know what? The truth hurts. Our lifestyles have led to this point. We have to acknowledge this. It’s the only way to move forward and correct our actions.
The best way to do that? Take a look at the damage being done.
As we discussed above, oil-spills, city runoff, eutrophication and pollution are killing marine life in large numbers.
But get this. It’s even changing their reproductive systems. So if they are somehow able to survive the pollution, their offspring won’t.
But the ripple of damage goes even further.
You may have heard. Coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate. The truth?
We’ve already lost 27% of the planet’s coral reefs. Scientists estimate, if we continue on this path, that figure will double in 30 years.
That’s tragic because…
Despite only covering 1% of the ocean, coral reefs are home to over 25% of marine fish species.
How do coral reefs die?
It’s simple. Coral reefs live in tandem with algae. However, when that algae leaves the coral (due to all the reasons we listed above, pollution, runoff, eutrophication, etc), the coral becomes “bleached”.
Once bleached, it’s only a matter of time before it contracts a disease and dies.
Learn more with this great infographic provided by NOAA:
We should care about the ocean’s health. It’s where we get 70% of our oxygen. 97% of our water supply. It even absorbs 30% of our carbon emissions.
Need more proof we should care more about the ocean’s health?
Listen to this. Marine pollution can cause…
Nervous system damage
Great. Now that I have your attention…let’s start talking solutions.
What Can You Do To Help Stop Marine Pollution?
You can start by sharing this article on Facebook with your friends. Remember, what famed educator John Dewey once famously said: “a problem well-defined, is half-solved”.
In other words…we can’t solve what we don’t know is wrong.
Sound the alarm. Tell your friends. Spread the word. Tell them how marine pollution affects sea life.
The ocean’s health—and therefore the planet’s health—depends on it.
Support Organizations That Fight Against Sea Pollution
This part’s easy. Support an organization like Dolphinaris that gives a portion of every sale towards protecting the ocean and its inhabitants.
This cenote is separated from the ocean by a small strip of land. Instead of the many circled cenotes, Casa Cenote features a long canal that winds away from the ocean.
When the sun is shining, its crystal clear waters allow you to see—with impressive clarity—all the way to the bottom. Many times, the bottom looks so near, it appears to be in near reach of your toes. When you attempt to touch with your hands, you’re amazed to realize its actually twice as deep as your eyes perceive it to be.
This is a small and cozy cenote. It has a cave, but it’s not large. Above the cave, people can dive off an approximately 12-foot ledge into the deep cenote. Even though it’s in a somewhat of a confined area, it’s the perfect place to entertain the whole family.
From an aerial perspective, this cenote looks very similar to Belize’ world famous, blue hole. It’s an impressively massive cenote in diameter. Despite its enormity, however, most people tend to congregate together near the entrance’s shore.
This small cenote has a lot of open space surrounding it. This leaves room for permanent chairs, tables, and shade-providing umbrellas. The most unique aspect of this cenote, however, is the short zipline they installed over it.
Have the lifeguard clear the way for you, put on a lifejacket, jump off and hold on to the handle. Fly the through the air before letting go at a predetermined spot in the cenote. Rinse and repeat as many times as you wish.
After visiting the Mayan Ruins of Ek Balam, go visit its eponymous and beautiful cenote, Ek Balam Cenote. One feature you won’t elsewhere is the impressively tall wooden staircase along the cenotes side. If you dare, climb up and jump several yards down into the cenote.
As the name suggests (in Spanish), this is a large and popular cenote. Google the diving pictures taken there, and be prepared to be awestruck. You can be sure, the pictures are so spectacularly majestic they’re enough motivation to visit in and of themselves.
Cenote Dos Ojos (meaning two eyes in Spanish) is connected to one of the top 10 longest underwater cave systems in the world. It contains the deepest known cave passage in Quintana Roo with a depth of nearly 400 feet.
It was featured in the IMAX film of 2002, Journey Into Amazing Caves.
In what appears to be a scene from James Cameron’s Avatar, Cenote Samula has an Alamo tree extending its roots from several yards above, into the cenote for hydration. The rare and impressive vista of hanging roots entering into the cenote is a sight to behold.
11. Cenote Chelentún (Cuzama)
This popular cenote near Merida features a 26 foot (8 meters) wooden staircase that leads you into a gorgeous grotto.
Cenote Cheletun is 158 feet long (48 meters), and 65 feet wide (20 meters). It has a depth of 50 feet (15 meters).
Cenote Bolonchoojol(meaning 9 drops of water in Mayan) is one of the most popular cenotes around. Why?
Well, for one, take a look at the photo above. You’ll see photos of this cenote in many guides. The combination of stalactite formations, crossed with the sunlit turquoise waters are simply eye-popping.