In honor of World Oceans Day on June 8, here is some information about the current state of Earth’s oceans and what we can do to help save them!
–Nonpoint Source Pollution: A result of runoff from automobiles, septic tanks, sewage, boats, livestock, farmland, and harvesting sites.
–Point Source Pollution: Pollution that comes from a single source such as an oil/chemical spill or dumping from factories and water treatment centers. Only 12% of the oil spilled into the ocean is a result of actual oil spills, most of it is due to runoff.
–Eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans annually. According to The Ocean Cleanup, there are over five trillion pieces of plastic littering oceans today.
–Plastic is not biodegradable, therefore it does not disintegrate AT ALL in the oceans. However, it does break down into smaller pieces known as microplastics, which are often found in the bellies of marine animals.
-Due to its low density, plastic will flow with rotating currents often causing collective and visible debris patches such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP).
-The GPGP floats between Hawaii and California. It is currently three times the size of France (1.6 million sq/km or one million sq/mi) and contains roughly 80,000 tons of garbage.
-The GPGP is the largest of five garbage patches affecting our ecosystems, health, and economies.
–Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolves in seawater. This directly affects pH levels of the water, therefore affecting creatures who live in the ocean.
-The ocean absorbs as much as 25% of carbon emissions from automobiles, factories, boats, etc.
-Carbon pollution is a main cause of bleached coral reefs.
-With higher acidity levels, algae is more likely to grow. Increased algae levels causes a decrease of oxygen levels
-According to KTVA: The Voice of Alaska, “In the past 200 years alone, ocean water has become 30 percent more acidic.”
NUCLEAR & RADIOACTIVE POLLUTION
–Discharges of radioactive waste into the ocean have been repeatedly reported over the years. Among other examples, a British nuclear fuel plant continues to repeatedly dump waste into the Irish Sea.
-As a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which occured off the eastern coast of Japan in 2011, well over a million tons of nuclear waste has been released into the environment. To put that into perspective for you, the BP Gulf Oil Spill in 2010 (2nd largest oil spill in history), was less than 800 tons of waste, albeit non-nuclear.
-For decades, the Russian Navy has laid their decommissioned nuclear submarines and nuclear reactors to rest on the floor of the Barents Sea and Kara Sea, releasing toxic waste into the water.
-There are, more or less, 60,000 commercial and container ships in transit at any given time.
“The underwater racket that results creates a kind of “smog” that reaches nearly every corner of the ocean and shrinks the sensory range of marine wildlife” (NRDC).
-Marine animals such as whales and dolphins rely on communication by sound to mate, navigate, migrate, and find food.
-Naval forces often use high-frequency sonar to detect their surroundings. Numerous studies have shown this to adversely affect marine life.
-Over 1,000,000 seabirds are killed by ocean pollution each year. As well as 300,000 dolphins/porpoises, and 100,000 other sea mammals.
-In the Pacific Ocean alone, fish ingest about 20,000 tons of plastic each year. Obviously, this causes a wide array of issues including intestinal injuries, blockage, chemical poisoning, malnutrition, and more.
-When the acidity level in the ocean rises, the carbonate levels decrease. Coral, mussels, clams, oysters, and many other sea creatures require calcium carbonate to build their shells and skeletons.
–The oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest has lost about $110 million and thousands of jobs thus far due to ocean acidification.
-The naval usage of high-frequency sonar has caused a catastrophe in whale and dolphin communities. For instance, back in 2014 five Cuvier’s beaked whales washed ashore in the same day. It is no coincidence that the U.S., Greek, and Israeli navies were conducting submarine warfare training exercises (known as Operation Noble Dina) one week prior. This is especially astonishing because Cuvier’s beaked whales favor deep water, often traveling 3,000 meters below the surface before coming up for air.
–Up until the 1970’s, waste was deliberately dumped into the oceans. It was a common practice and people assumed that because the ocean is so vast, it would dilute and dissolve.
-Today, sewage is still discharged into the ocean in many parts of the world and is usually untreated or under-treated.
-An estimated 640,000 tons of fishing equipment is lost or dumped into the ocean each year.
-It is predicted that by 2050, plastic bags will outnumber fish. Nearly two million single-use plastic bags are distributed worldwide every minute.
-Roughly 90% of plastic waste is NOT recycled.
-Today, the pieces of microplastic in the ocean outnumber the stars in the Milky Way.
- REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!
- Eliminate plastic from your lifestyle. Instead, incorporate reusable plastic commodities such as straws, bags, and bottles. Did you know that 500 million plastic straws are used every day in the United States alone?
- Plan a beach/river clean-up.
- During a trip to the beach, make a point to throw away your own trash and pick up trash from others left behind as well. Do not leave behind any plastic toys in the assumption that someone else will find and play with them… they will most likely wash out to sea.
- Conserve water & energy.
- Eliminate or limit seafood in your diet.
- Bring a garment bag and hangers to your dry cleaner, so they do not return your clothes wrapped in an abundance of plastic and paper.
- Bring your own travel mug when buying coffee on-the-go.
- Buy bamboo toothbrushes (click here to buy on Amazon)