The disastrous consequences of plastic pollution go far beyond just trapping and suffocating marine life. When plastic breaks down, it also finds its way into the stomach and bloodstream of various sea creatures, causing them to suffer from horrible medical conditions which slowly kill them. These various fish, which we end up eating, are often contaminated with not just mercury but also various pieces of plastic.
It’s almost as if the oceans wash up our garbage only to serve it right back onto our plates. By now, there’s no part of the ocean that hasn’t been affected by human waste due to the nature of these pieces of plastic to break down and travel. Recent research by scientists from Newcastle University found that even at almost 11,000 meters below sea level, almost every living sea creature there has eaten some sort of man-made material, including PVA, PVC, plastics, and nylon. What do medical professionals have to say about this karmic cycle?
Plastic Is Coming
A recent study that was conducted in the Mariana Trench found that it actually has a higher level of pollution than some of the most polluted rivers in China. The reason for these levels of pollution is the result of two destructive phenomena. The first is plastic breakdown. Over time, the pieces of plastic that are discarded into the ocean on beaches and from ships tend to break down. As more pieces of plastic utensils, bottles, and bags begin to break, the levels of pollution only continue to get worse. The second phenomenon is even worse.
The Mariana Trench is a very central spot in the ocean. This means that it often attracts ocean waves and water movements that move directly in its direction. These flows of water drag all the plastic waste from the beaches right into these central areas. What makes these phenomena so frightening is that it makes the entire ocean susceptible to pollution, as every area can be covered in plastic that traveled to it from a completely different place. There is nothing stopping waste from reaching secluded places like the Mariana Trench, which puts all of the ocean’s inhabitants at risk.
You Dropped Your Net
Apparently, another major source of pollution is the fishing gear that is often discarded by fishermen. Large boats carrying tens or even hundreds of people are often used for hunting down large masses of fish for selling. These fish suffer a brutal fate on their own, without even considering all the plastic waste they might choke on on the way. Once they collect enough fish, these fishermen drop their used equipment into the bottom of the ocean, where they wreak even more havoc.
According to a 2017 study, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive part of the ocean the size of Texas, contains mostly fishing equipment in its large swatch of floating debris. This area, which is located between California and Hawaii, contains much of the trash discussed earlier. The more it breaks down over time and spreads in the ocean, the harder it will be to tackle it in due time. This can be avoided by simply being more environmentally conscious, which is why awareness of the problem is of utmost importance.
A Professional Opinion
By loitering the oceans with plastic, we force other animals to inject the polluting non-degradable plastic, which chokes and poisons them. These sea animals then get eaten either by us or other living ocean creatures (who are also eaten by us eventually). Dr. Alan Jamieson, a marine ecology professor and the head of the aforementioned study, explains that “there were instances where the fibers could actually be seen in the stomach contents as they were being removed,” He claims that these results were both “immediate and startling.”
The pollution problem is already at a much higher level than what is considered reasonable. Even if we completely stop plastic pollution today, there would still be more than we can handle in the oceans. While we wait to solve this problem, plastics keep breaking down in the ocean, making them even harder to track and extract. In addition, the ocean’s flows also keep spreading plastic all across the seas.
Many parts of the ocean have already given way to the plastic infestation that’s common in many countries. Entire water areas are covered in plastic and are unrecognizable when compared to even 50 years ago. Some of these water locations have become dumping spots for plastics, which eliminates any hope of an animal being able to live there. Once people discover that they have completely destroyed a given body of water, they will usually use this as an excuse to dump even more garbage rather than less.
Eventually, these pieces of plastic, which are currently too big to move, will break down into smaller pieces that are able to travel. Don’t be surprised in the future if we have to put plastic warning labels on fish products due to this ever-increasing situation. “This is a very worrying find. Isolating plastic fibers from inside animals from nearly 11 km deep just shows the extent of the problem,” Dr. Jamieson said about the study’s findings. “This is global,” he emphasized.