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.
The Ocean’s Plastic Karma
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?
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.
These Statistics Should Worry You
Researchers claim that about eight million tons of plastic get thrown into the oceans annually. They also estimate that there are currently about 300 million tons of plastic waste and garbage floating in the middle of the ocean. These pieces of plastic are also breaking down as you read this and turning into smaller, more nimble, and easily digestible pieces of food, which will undoubtedly end up in our stomachs at some point or another. Researchers estimate that by 2050, there will be much more plastic than fish in the ocean.
Based on research that was done by Greenpeace UK’s Oceans department, there are about 51 trillion microplastic particles in the ocean. Many experts believe that this level of pollution, coupled with the earth’s climate change, has a relatively high chance of causing an eventual animal extinction. The more polluted the oceans become, the more susceptible we are to other catastrophic calamities which might occur as a reaction.
A Growing Movement
While the facts about the disturbing consequences of our ocean’s pollution are in, it’s still up to people to actually make the change. We heavily rely on oceans to provide for us in many ways, so it only makes sense that we do the minimum of paying back this debt by not destroying them. Awareness of the problems of climate change and the ocean’s plight is the only thing that can start improving the situation. The damage to our oceans can only start being reversed once we go past a certain critical mass of people who participate in this global healing.
We should aim to be less dependent on various plastics such as plastic bags, straws, utensils, and packaging. On the other hand, we could divert these financial resources into supporting companies that use organic or biodegradable materials which do not cause this type of damage. Another solution would be to improve ocean surveillance, and heavily fine people found littering the oceans.