How Polluted Is The Ocean – Most marine debris (80%) comes from litter and debris in urban runoff, i.e. land-based sources. Major components of land-based sources include litter, trash and debris discharged from construction, ports and marinas, commercial and industrial facilities, and garbage containers, trucks, and landfills.

Food containers and packaging are the largest component of the municipal solid waste stream (80 million tons or 31.7 %).

How Polluted Is The Ocean

These items, along with plastic bags, represent the largest component of marine debris (ie, excluding items less than 5mm such as pre-production plastic pellets, fragments and polystyrene fragments).

Pollution In The Deep Sea

Packaging and single-use disposable products are not only ubiquitous in marine debris, they also represent an unsustainable use of precious resources (oil, trees, energy sources, water).

The amount of marine debris in oceans worldwide is increasing. Researchers from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation documented a fivefold increase in plastic debris in the central Pacific gyre between 1997 and 2007, where a baseline in 1997 showed more plastic fragments than plankton on the sea surface.

Along the Japanese coast, the amount of floating pelagic plastic particles increased 10-fold in the 10 years between 1970 and 1980, and increased 10-fold every 2-3 years in the 1990s.

In the ocean, plastic debris injures and kills fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Marine plastic pollution has affected at least 267 species worldwide, including 86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species, and 43% of all marine mammal species. Consequences include deaths from ingestion, starvation, suffocation, infection, drowning and entanglement.

Plastic Pollution In Atlantic At Least 10 Times Worse Than Thought

In 2010, a California gray whale washed up on the shores of Puget Sound. Autopsies indicated that inside its stomach were a pair of pants and a golf ball, more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, duct tape and surgical gloves.

Seabirds that feed on the ocean surface are particularly likely to consume floating plastic debris. Adults feed these substances to their young, which can have detrimental effects on the growth and survival of the young.

According to one study about 98% of chicks contain plastic and the amount of plastic consumption is increasing over time.

As persistent organic pollutants in the marine environment adhere to the surface of plastic debris, plastics floating in the oceans have been found to collect pollutants and transport them through ocean currents.

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California Targets Microplastics Polluting The Ocean

Research is mounting that sea creatures that consume plastics coated with pollutants can absorb these pollutants into their bodies.

Plastic debris is polluting the human food chain. During the 2008 Pacific Gyre expedition, Algalita researchers began to find fish consuming plastic fragments and debris. Of the 672 fish caught on that cruise, 35% had ingested pieces of plastic.

The plastics industry, led by the American Chemical Council (ACC), spends millions of dollars each year convincing policymakers and Californians that the solutions to plastic pollution lie in anti-littering campaigns that blame marine debris on individual behavior. Yet they have devoted less money to public education and more to promoting policies that support increased use of plastics.

Although increasing public education is important to prevent littering, proper management of litter fails to address the unsustainable use of resources involved in producing packaging and single-use disposable goods.

How Plastic Pollution Affects The Ocean

Furthermore, as the amount of disposable packaging and products continues to increase, significant and sustained funding will be needed to control litter through public education and clean up streets and waterways.

Preventing the production of disposable products as much as possible reduces the amount of money needed to control and manage waste and litter. Prevention is cost-effective and better for the environment. Marine Debris Toolkit for Educators: Citizen Science and Community Action in Academic Settings (60-minute Webinar)

Every year, billions of pounds of trash and other pollutants enter the ocean. Where does this pollution come from? Where does it go? Some debris ends up on our beaches, washed up with waves and tides. Some debris sinks, some is mistaken for food by marine animals, and some accumulates in ocean gyres. Other types of pollution that impact ocean health come from sources like oil spills or from the accumulation of many diffuse sources like manure from our yards.

Garbage such as plastic detergent bottles, crates, buoys, combs and water bottles carpet Kanapau Bay on the island of Kaholawe in Hawaii. This area is a hot spot for marine debris accumulation. (Image credit:)

Hearing To Review U.s. Efforts To Address Ocean Plastic Pollution

Most of the pollutants that make their way into the ocean come from human activities along the coast and far inland. One of the largest sources of pollution is nonpoint source pollution, which occurs as a result of runoff. Nonpoint source pollution can come from many sources, such as septic tanks, vehicles, farms, cattle ranches, and timber harvesting areas. Pollution from a single source, such as an oil or chemical spill, is called point source pollution. Point source pollution events often have large impacts, but fortunately, they occur less frequently. Discharges from faulty or damaged factories or water treatment systems are also considered point source pollution.

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Two underwater robots have been deployed to autonomously monitor and measure the toxicity of harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes.

Sometimes it is not the type of substance, but its concentration that determines whether a substance is a pollutant. For example, nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients are essential elements for plant growth. However, if they are too abundant in a body of water, they can stimulate the growth of algae, triggering an event called an algal bloom. Harmful algal blooms (HABs), also known as “red tides,” grow rapidly and cause toxic effects that affect marine life and sometimes humans. Excess nutrients entering water bodies through natural or human activities can cause hypoxia or dead zones. When large amounts of algae are submerged in water and decompose, the decomposition process consumes oxygen and depletes the supply available for healthy marine life. Many marine species living in these areas die or leave the area if they are mobile (such as fish).

Using environmental forecasting, it is possible to predict changes in ecosystems in response to HABs and other environmental drivers. These forecasts provide information on how people, economies and communities may be affected. For example, the Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring System developed by the National Centers for Coastal Marine Sciences provides information to the public and local officials to decide whether to temporarily close beaches to protect public health.

River Pollution Major Contributor Of Plastic Waste To Oceans

In 2015, fifth graders in Falmouth, Massachusetts noticed the problem. Millions of metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean every year, but people around continue to use single-use plastic. In short, plastics were the norm. To address this issue, students worked with Falmouth Water Stewards to create a campaign called “Skip the Straw”.

Marine debris is a persistent pollution problem that reaches the entire ocean and Great Lakes. Our oceans and waterways are polluted by various types of marine debris, ranging from tiny microplastics, smaller than 5 mm, to fishing gear and abandoned ships. Around the world, hundreds of marine species are negatively affected by marine debris, which can harm or kill animals when they are consumed or become entangled, and threaten the habitats they depend on. Marine debris can interfere with the safety of navigation and pose a threat to human health.

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Most of all marine debris originates on land and enters the ocean and great lakes through littering, poor waste management practices, storm water discharges, and extreme natural events such as tsunamis and hurricanes. Some debris, such as decrepit fishing gear, may also come from marine sources. This lost or abandoned gear is a major problem because it continues to capture and kill wildlife, damage sensitive habitats, and can compete with and damage active fishing gear.

Local, national and international efforts are needed to solve this environmental problem. The Save Our Oceans Act of 2018 amends and reauthorizes the Marine Debris Act to encourage international action, authorize cleanup and response measures, and increase coordination among federal agencies on this issue.

Ways To Help Reduce Ocean Pollution

Garbage patches are large areas of ocean where trash, fishing gear, and other marine debris accumulate. The term “garbage patch” is a misleading nickname, as many believe that garbage patches are “garbage islands” visible from afar. These areas are actually made up of debris ranging in size from microplastics to oversized fishing gear.

These patches are formed by large, rotating ocean currents called gyres that pull debris into one place, often into the center of the gyre. There are five gyres in the ocean: one in the Indian Ocean, two in the Atlantic Ocean and two in the Pacific Ocean. Each gyre has litter patches of different sizes. Due to wind and currents, garbage patches are constantly changing size and shape. Debris forming garbage patches can be found from the ocean surface to the ocean floor.

A healthy ocean starts with us. Learn how student leaders interned as part of American Samoa

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