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Our planet Earth is known as Blue Planet because 71% of the planet is covered with water. 50-80% of the total life of Earth lives in oceans, but this marine ecosystem is in danger. Beautiful marine life is being affected and is in danger because of the wrongdoings of human beings. Every year 380 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide, and this mass production of plastic is disposed of using different methods. Some of which are dumped into oceans and have had terrible consequences affecting oceans and marine life.
Scientists have done several types of research to investigate the effects of plastic pollution on the oceans. According to the studies, plastic has negatively impacted the seas and put marine life in danger. But people are not aware of the facts about plastic in the ocean. Here you will find ten facts about the effects of plastic in oceans and how it is causing harm to life underwater.
We usually think of plastic in the form of plastic bottles and containers floating on the surface of the water. After disposing of the plastic in the ocean, we don’t know what type of pollution we are causing. The plastic in the sea is not only bottles and containers; some of the plastic breaks down to form microplastics that are a threat to the marine ecosystem. Plastics do not decompose like any other organic material. It breaks down to develop smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics.
If any aquatic animal swallows microplastic or tiny particles underwater, this can cause massive destruction. Following the food chain of nature, a fish will consume microplastic; then, the fish will be eaten by other animals and ultimately will be eaten by human beings. As per the research, the no. of microplastics in the oceans may range between fifteen to fifty-one trillion, which is more than the no. of stars in the galaxy.
Plastic pollution in the oceans is getting more and more critical every year. The crisis of plastic pollution is a never-ending crisis as the previously dumped plastic is not removed from the seas. Every year, additional 8 million tonnes of plastic are disposed of into the ocean every year. The weight of this much plastic is almost equal to the weight of 130 million humans. This plastic dumped into the ocean can affect the health of marine life as well as human beings.
The durability of plastic is extremely high, which is an advantage and disadvantage to the planet. It is because every piece of plastic which is manufactured till now still exists in the world. Plastic only decays over time when it comes into contact with direct heat from the sun, but it will never disappear. It does not decompose and continues to break down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. Know more about Microplastics and why it should not be neglected.
The plastic pollution problem is increasing day by day and has become worse than ever before. The companies spend billions of dollars on improving the technology to increase their plastic production. With the improving technology, plastic can be manufactured faster and more efficiently. It makes plastic cheaper and more cost-effective. The increased production means an increased amount of plastic to be disposed of will find its way into the oceans.
As per the reports given by Ellen Macarthur Foundation, The production of plastic has increased tremendously. It had risen from 15 million tonnes to 311 million tonnes in 2014. It is expected to increase to triple by 2050.
If no necessary preventive action is taken, then by 2050, the weight of plastic in the ocean will be more than the fishes in the ocean.
You must be thinking, what is so special about these five countries? These countries are developing at a very rapid pace hence resulting in increased use of single-use plastics. Among these five countries, China has now become the biggest consumer of bottled water. In 2000, $1 billion bottled water was sold, which has risen to more than $14 Billion in 2014. The economic development of the countries is growing at a rapid pace, but their waste disposal technology is not updated for the proper disposal of plastic. It is dumped into the oceans.
A group of Australian scientists has reported that around 90% of the total seabirds of the world have consumed plastic into their bodies. In the research, plastic fragments were found in the guts of some of the birds. By 2050, the number will rise to 99%. Around 99% of the seabirds will have consumed plastic into their bodies at least once. These birds face different health issues due to plastic ingestion, including intestinal obstructions, choking, stomach issues, and if the pieces of plastic ingested are large, it may lead to death.
According to the reports of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, Many people volunteer to clean beaches from all over the world. 800,00 volunteers removed more than 20 million pieces of litter. The types of debris collected while cleaning were documented, and the most common litter found on the beaches are listed below:
There is an area in the Pacific Ocean that is covered with garbage collected from the ocean areas. This area is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is formed naturally by ocean currents. The ocean currents pull the garbage from the surrounding areas and do not let the garbage escape from the patch. The patch contains 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing around 80,000 tonnes.
Several researchers are studying the presence of plastic at hundreds of sites across the globe. Since the 1950s, the disposal of plastics in the world’s oceans has resulted in contamination of 88% of the sea surface by plastic waste.
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