EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PLASTIC AND THE TRASH ISLANDS IN THE OCEANS
Due to an increase in global pollution, global warming, climate change, population growth, and urbanization the amount of trash that has landed up in our oceans has increased tremendously. Now known as the trash islands in the oceans piles and piles of rubbish including numerous amounts of plastic has formed and shaped our oceans making them not only dangerous but also inhabitable for marine life.
The island of plastic in the ocean is killing marine life and preventing oceans from working properly which eventually affects every living organism present on Earth. Why are there plastic islands in the ocean you may ask? Well, this is mainly because of human behavior and actions, we are responsible for the build-up of plastic and trash that has caused plastic islands in the ocean, and here is how and why this has happened as well as what we can do to prevent it further.
THE ISLANDS OF PLASTIC IN THE OCEAN
The North Pacific ocean has undoubtedly dealt with the worst of the worst and is currently known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch due to the massive amount of debris and litter that has ended up in the ocean, completely destroying large bodies of water and turning them into an island of trash in the ocean. The Great Pacific ocean stretches all the way from North America to Japan in which has been compromised by trash on both the far West near Japan and the far East near Hawaii and California. The exact zone that is now an ocean trash island is exactly where the warm water and cool water meet which in turn moves the collection of trash, plastic, and debris with it.
This trash island in the ocean has become trapped and flooded with large amounts of debris that has blocked the once calm and stable center of the ocean in which the circular currents are formed. The problem with a plastic island ocean is that most if not all of the trash that has accumulated within it are not biodegradable which means that it will continue to exist in the ocean forever and unfortunately it is only getting bigger and bigger as more and more garbage is thrown into the oceans every single day. Sometimes the plastic that is accumulated is of a very small size known as microplastics which in many cases cannot even be seen with the naked eye, however can be felt by the numerous amount of marine life that it affects.
WHAT IS INSIDE OF AN OCEAN PLASTIC ISLAND?
The problem with trash islands in the ocean is that for us it seems to just look like discolored, cloudy water but for marine life, it is something much more dangerous. Not only is there an accumulative amount of plastic at the surface of the water but the ocean floor is also covered by trash and debris as almost seventy percent of all the debris sinks to the floor. Scientists and researchers are becoming increasingly concerned about the state of the oceans and the Great Pacific in general stating that it may not exist for much longer, which in turn affects every single marine life species that inhabitants it, this could lead to many more devastating problems and even wipe out entire species of marine life completely.
WHY ARE THERE TRASH ISLANDS IN THE OCEAN?
Trash islands in the ocean are formed as a result of land-based waste sources, this means that eighty percent are more of the trash, debris, plastic, and litter that is found in our oceans comes from the trash produced on land, by humans. The remainder of the sources largely come from fishing boats and marine equipment that are dumped into the oceans annually. Of course, each ocean varies with the amount of trash and the sources of such trash but as an overall stance, humans are largely to blame for the plastic ocean island problem. Some of the biggest ocean pollutants that contribute towards the island of plastic in the ocean are:
Oil spills that occur throughout the year due to transportation and implementation issues contribute to around twelve percent of global ocean pollution. This oil then lands up in the oceans as a result of runoffs from roads, rivers, and drainpipes which then affects the ocean’s ability to thrive and create growth and development of marine life species.
The number one and the worst pollutant of all is that of plastic. Currently, it is stated that there is more plastic in the oceans than there are fish. There are about 17.6 billion pounds of plastic that get dumped into our oceans each year alone. That is a devastating and astronomical amount that is the number one contributor to the death of thousands of marine life species each year. Plastic is accessible, it is easy to transport and it is cheap and that is what is used so often, in various types of products, consumer goods, and industrial products that we buy and sell. If these products are not recycled and rather thrown into the trash, they will most definitely eventually land up in our oceans. Plastic is the biggest problem as it not biodegradable and is completely toxic for marine life.
The fast fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to water pollution and a huge cause of why we experience an island of trash in the ocean. For example, China has one of the biggest fast fashion industries and thus has one of the biggest water pollution issues in which their oceans are too packed full of trash that form an island in the ocean. Fast fashion trash also pollutes our beaches as the synthetic microfibers used are not biodegradable and are eventually washed into our waterways where it’s from land or beach. As a result of the kind of materials used it is estimated that nearly 700,000 microfibers are washed into our oceans just from doing laundry alone.
THE ATLANTIC OCEAN TRASH ISLAND
Just like the Great Pacific the Atlantic Ocean is too covered in trash. This giant plastic island in the ocean is almost the size of the entire state of Texas. The unfortunate part about the oceans is that they are all interconnected and are continuous movers so when one side of the ocean is affected by the large build-up of garbage so are all the other sides of the ocean, including the Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian. Just like with the pacific trash island ocean the garbage build-up circulates for years and years killing and damaging thousands of marine life species including fish, turtles, sharks, and plankton.
IMPACTS OF OCEAN TRASH ISLANDS
Ocean trash islands affect many parts of the marine life ecosystem including:
The large amount of trash that is found in our oceans causes something known as habitat alteration in which it changes the natural habitat that marine life species have adapted to. The habitat structure is then changed, oxygen levels become reduced and the light levels underwater are decreased which in many cases makes parts of the ocean no longer inhabitable for marine life species. All of this changes the ability for fish to find shelter, food resources and may even cause endangerment and or extinction.
Everything that is dumped into our oceans contains toxic chemicals that are damaging and even deadly to marine life. Pesticides, chemical-based products, and plastic are the worst contributors to these effects as the more they accumulate the more chemicals they let off into our oceans. In many experiments plastic has been found in the stomachs of marine animals as well as seabirds that feed off the top of the oceans.
Ingestion of plastic from the trash island in the ocean contributes largely to the overall deaths found in marine life species, especially that of turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals. Threats from plastic include both physical issues such as entanglement as well as internal issues such as ingestion of plastic which can not only harm animals but kill them too. Ingesting plastic can cause major issues in the digestive system, taking away marine mammals’ ability to consume food as well as feed altogether. This eventually causes problems with reproduction and can eliminate an entire species as a result.&nb
Whilst it’s the marine life that suffers most as a result humans will suffer the consequences too. The plastic islands in our oceans and their effects will impair navigation, commercial fishing, reduce tourism and threaten our health and safety altogether. This can also impair our ability to further study and research marine life, as well as commercial experience, informs for snorkeling and scuba diving.
HOW TO REDUCE THE ISLAND OF PLASTIC IN THE OCEAN?
There are many photos of islands of trash in our oceans that sum up how bad it really is and thus to move forward we need to take the steps to prevent it from further occurring as well as to try to reduce what already exists. Some things we can do to stop ocean trash islands include:
Use less plastic
As plastic is the largest contributor, using less one-time use plastic is one of the greatest things we can do to stop further pollution in our oceans, try using sustainable materials and practice reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic products.
Don’t go for convenience
In many cases products that are wrapped in plastic are often less expensive, however, being smart with what you buy is what can truly make a difference. Try not to buy things wrapped in plastic and buy groceries from local farmers’ markets where you can bring your own bags.
Support sustainable businesses
Nowadays there are many companies and brands that are using alternative materials that are more eco-friendly and biodegradable. Supporting these types of businesses will help to grow the demand for sustainable materials and lessen the overall consumption of plastic.
As you can see our oceans are suffering tremendously and are only getting worse due to the vast amount of trash that lands up in the waters each day. In order to help save our planet, ourselves, and the entire marine life ecosystem we need to start making changes within our daily lives in order to see a difference for our future.
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