Have you ever thought of the consequences of some of your daily actions, something really simple like eating a chocolate, or drinking a milk shake from a restaurant? What happens to the plastic wrap you just took off, or the straw you just threw out?
A huge chunk of it is dumped into the rivers and oceans, which then remains there for hundreds of years, polluting the waters and killing its various life forms.
Life without plastic has become almost impossible today, it is there in our grocery stores, restaurants, toiletries, toys, furniture, clothes etc. It is everywhere and it impacts the environment in a very negative way.
Ocean pollution has been escalating at an exponential rate, and it has started to affect our water, land and food supply. As the production and usage of plastic is on the rise, so is the struggle for proper disposal. Although the effects of our over consumption are already clearly visible, projections suggest that this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Marine debris such as plastics, metals, glass and other solid waste materials that enter the ocean can virtually be found everywhere in the ocean and approximately 60 – 90% of it is plastic. 80% of this trash comes from land based sources such as trash and urban run-off, and the other 20% comes from overboard discharges and discarded fish gear.
Regardless of the source, marine debris has become a truly harmful and dangerous predator to those who call the ocean, home. It has effected over 267 species worldwide as a result of ingestion, starvation, suffocation, infection, drowning and entanglement.
The evidence of plastics adverse effects on marine life is really mind blowing.
• It is expected that soon there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish.
• 50 – 80% of all sea turtles found dead have ingested some form of plastic.
• Some seabirds have been found to unintentionally feed their chicks plastic, mistaking it for food. One study also found that 98% of the chicks sampled had ingested some form of plastic.
• Various whale species have also been found dead after plastic consumption. One incident happened in 2002 when a Minke whale was found with 800 kg of plastic bags in its stomach. Another incident took place in 2004 when a Cuviers Beaked whale was found dead with tightly packed black plastic bags blocking the entrance to its stomach.
Here we can see first-hand how plastic pollution is effecting the diet and consumption patterns of our marine life. What we need to understand is that this does not just effect the marine life, this plastic is being transferred up the food chain and ends up in our stomachs as well while we consume fish products.
The major concern here is that pollution along with overfishing is contributing to the decimation of fish stocks. Further abuse of this can lead to a collapse in the fish population which will eventually cause a shortage of food for humans.