Trash Fills Ocean

Emi Anzai, Mirada Staff

There are some people that believe climate change is just a hoax invented by a foreign country, while others don’t even believe in pollution. Other people think that there isn’t enough scientific proof that the planet’s climate is affected by human activity.

If climate change doesn’t get people to think about changing their ways on how to treat the planet, then perhaps knowing that the ocean is filled with toxins and trash such as plastic bags, straws, lost or improperly discarded nets, hooks, fishing lines, and soda rings will inspire action.

The ocean makes up 72 percent of the planet’s surface and humans are still debating whether the Arctic is melting and if climate change is a myth. While these debates are occurring, marine mammal centers, aquariums, and zoological facilities are working around the clock to remove fish hooks and plastic bags from the throats of turtles, untangle dolphins from nets, rescue malnourished sea lion pups, and clean off oil from multiple species.

Nets and fishing lines that have been improperly discarded have entangled all sorts of marine life in its death trap according to the National Trust for Scotland. Dolphins, sea turtles, seabirds, porpoises, crabs, and crocodiles are among the many species that have been frequently entangled. Entanglement in nets and fishing lines causes injuries, infections, restricts movement, and for some species such as dolphins and porpoises, suffocation.

Many species have been found to have ingested plastic and died as a result of being unable to digest the plastic, and according to a study by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 97.5 percent of the Laysan albatross chicks, a near threatened species, had plastic in their stomachs. Plastic has gotten into an organism by the organism mistaking the object for food or by prey organisms already ingested plastic and a predator eating it.

Deep sea trawling is a type of fishing that causes damage to sea floors and can remove five to 25 percent of marine life on the seafloor. Gillnets are another type of fishing that harms sea life due to the high risk of by catch it poses as animals can’t see the net, therefore swim directly into them and become entangled.

Toxins have also been another reason for the endangerment of species and populations, such as the southern resident killer whale population who have been found to have toxins in their tissues and during oil spills, many bird species, manatees, otters, seals, whales, polar bears, and walruses have been affected, either by being unable to shed water or eat due to prey sources being killed off.

Underwater noise affects animals such as whales and dolphins by disrupting their sonar and therefore their ability to locate food, other members of their species, and other objects in their environment such as boats.

There are many other ways humans have impacted the marine environment but fishing, toxins, and underwater pollution are among the top contributors to destroying the ocean and its inhabitants. Dams can restrict prey populations and starve predators as a result.

For all of what the oceans and its inhabitants face, humans actually can do something about it. We can promote awareness to those in power, recycle more often, clean up at the beach, make sustainable food choices and visit aquariums and zoological facilities to learn more on how someone can make an impact, whether good or bad to their environment, and to help fund their rescues, rehabs, and release.