Team: Majestic Monsters Professor Latta University Foundations 300-02 13 November 2012 Ocean Pollution Ocean pollution presents

a vital issue, felt throughout the entire world. Whether it be the myriad of animals affected by poor nutrition, or the simple harms of contamination to one of earth's most valuable resources, ocean pollution is a key global issue. This essay will focus on the direct effects of pollution towards plants and animals, and some of the practical choices individuals can make to remedy this issue. To understand the effects of ocean pollution on plants and animals, an understanding of how ocean pollution occurs is critical. At first glance, it might seem that pollution occurs in certain parts of the ocean more than others but in actuality, the occurrence is fairly similar throughout the globe. Most commonly, pollution occurs on beaches and near coastal cities. The other most frequent site for ocean pollution, or 'ocean dumping' is the middle of the ocean. This type of pollution happens when cargo ships make their way from one port to the next. Unfortunately for the globe, there is evidence that, “degradation, particularly of shoreline areas, has accelerated dramatically over the past three centuries” (Marine Pollution). Next, it is important to discuss what exactly the ocean is being polluted with. One of the main ocean contaminants is oil. In a global way, oil can be thought of as a large-scale commodity, used by many societies including Eastern and Western. Millions of tons of oil are transported by tankers from around the world and “over 99% of tankers arrive safely, but should a tanker spill oil, the effect on the environment can be devastating” (National Maritime

Museum). Some of the effects of this oil dumping are felt by marine animals, which will be examined next. Animals such as fish, whales, and other sea-based creatures provide a valuable source of food to humans and are also perceived by most people as possessing rights to a healthy existence, which should be respected. This is an important factor to ocean pollution since, "researchers found that human activity -- from over-fishing to greenhouse gases and global warming to the introduction of toxins into the environment – has affected every square mile of ocean on the planet and strongly impacted roughly 40 percent of marine ecosystems" (Bohle). This large spread effect of human interaction on such a valuable, natural resource as the ocean most certainly presents a problem towards ocean life. The Beluga whale, one of the ocean's largest mammals is now viewed by many entities as a toxic substance. "Beluga carcasses are so saturated with agricultural runoff-delivered chemicals, such as pesticides, herbicides and phosphorus, that their carcasses must be handled like toxic waste." (Bohle). This sad fact demonstrates that marine animals are indeed reaping many negative effects due to human interaction and poorly handled ocean practices. Another area affected by these poorly handled practices can be seen in plant life. The decomposing bacteria and fungi that come from ocean dumping causes a decrease in acidified water, making the water have a lower pH than normal amounts. The lowering of this pH level then reduces the number of plants that are capable of growing. This occurs because plants need a specific pH balance to thrive, which they are not receiving. Consequently, if the number of plants in the ocean decreases, many other forms of life will decrease as well, such as the now toxic Beluga whale, as mentioned earlier.

Global activity can also affect ocean plant-life through common household detergents. Detergents from laundry or other cleaners are often dumped into the ocean, resulting in negative effects on the plant life found there. Detergents are high in phosphate, which kills the chlorophyll in the plants, meaning they simply are not able to function properly. These effects are witnessed in various ways with plants growing abnormally or too soon. In addition to detergents, fertilizers also find their way into the ocean through such common gateways as gutters. This is perceived as a negative aspect for the ocean-ecosystem since fertilizers contain high amounts of phosphate, which is toxic to plant life. Oil dumping and spills also effect plant life. When oil is spilled, the plants absorb the oil, which may cause the plant to die altogether. Some of the oils spilled are very heavy and may crush and cover the plant completely. Even if the plants live, they will no longer be able to breed, which is a problem for the continuation of ocean life. However, ocean life and human life are interconnected more than first glance would seem to claim. Plants and animals are often categorically grouped together for a reason. The world's ecosystem, meaning its community and ways of functioning, has no standalone entities. All parts of the ecosystem are effected by ocean pollution, especially plants and animals. When plants absorb pollutants, such as household detergent, the pollutants then travel up the food chain to the fish that eat these plants. Humans are not exempt from this food chain and by eating the fish that contain these pollutants, humankind is essentially poisoning itself, to a degree. Most individuals are unaware of these horrific effects and the long-term consequences of their current actions. According to Center for Ocean Pollution, "Excessive nutrients in the water lead to excessive algal growth. More than 300 recorded cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning and 17 documented human deaths have occurred in Central America alone as a result of toxins produced by these algal blooms." (Center). These deaths are simply the result of one tiny aspect

of ocean pollution. Not only are these affects felt in human health concerns, they are also witnessed monetarily. As one source states, "Healthcare costs for illnesses related to beach bacteria from pollution range from an estimated $21 - $414 million each year in Southern California. The state of California spent an estimated $51 million under its Clean Beaches Initiative over six years from 2000-2006."(Center). This is an vast amount of tax-payer money, which hits hard, especially during difficult economic times. Next, it will be helpful to explore what everyday choices individuals can make to help with this crisis. One of the best means of deterring ocean pollution is through education. There are many organizations such as, Green Living and Protect the Ocean which try to educate Americans on the consequences of dumping into the ocean. Many individuals still have no idea of some of the long-term effects of ocean waste dumping. This education and 'spreading the word' can inspire creativity in brainstorming better solutions to ocean-waste treatment and give passion to those willing to work on a problem they may have been completely unaware of. Education of the global issue of ocean pollution also helps dispel rumors such as, 'the ocean is so incredibly large, what damage could possibly be done?" The Center for Ocean Pollution states that, "A section of the North Pacific Ocean (the North Pacific Gyre) is home to the world's largest floating "island" of trash, known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. The polluted area covers approximately 8 million square kilometers—larger than the entire United States." The sheer vastness of such a garbage pile may visually help individuals consider their choices more carefully. Others ways in which people can help are to dispose of fertilizers and laundry detergents in proper ways. Some helpful advice includes, "The key to smart use and disposal of any cleaning product is to read the label and follow the directions...For example, water soluble

products (those mixed with water for cleaning), such as laundry and dishwashing detergents...can be flushed down the drain with running water. Remember, just as you shouldn't mix cleaning products together when using them, you shouldn't mix unused products during disposal." (Cleaning). The proper use of basic human cleaning technology can greatly help reduce the impact of ocean pollution, if not immediately, at least in the long term. It is important to consider future generations. It stands to reason that most Americans, and humans across the globe, desire to keep the beautiful beaches and crystal oceans we now enjoy secure for generations to come. When a thing of beauty meets practicality, it must not be ignored. The ocean is such a thing. It holds both beauty and peace as well as life and sustenance. It gives fishermen hope for their families and vegetarians tranquility in the simple beauty of nature. It's much more than a simple tool for harvesting fish, yet it possesses that quality and many more. So, whether it be a Nalgene bottle or an expedition to an oil-spill, consider how to benefit the world we live in now, as well as the world we wish to become.

References Marine pollution. (n.d.). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Pollute. Retrieved from http://www.merriam- National Maritime Museum. (n.d.). Your waste. Retrieved from Bohle, R. (2008). The effect of ocean pollution on marine mammals. Saving Dolphins & Whales Protecting the Oceans. Retrieved from Bernard , Murrye. "Solutions for Ocean Pollution." I love to know green living (2006): n.pag. Web. 11 Nov 2012. "Pacific Ocean Threats and Impacts: Pollution ." Center for Ocean Solutions n.pag. Web. 11 Nov 2012 Some Facts About Cleaning Product Disposal. (n.d.). N.p.: Cleaning Institute. Retrieved November 15, 2012, from some_facts_about_.aspx

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