Oceans form the largest water bodies on earth. However, over the last decades, an increase in human activity hurt marine life.
The number of plastics taken out of the ocean over the past decade oceans has been truly astonishing. Research published by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation shows that should the pollution of rivers and beaches persist on at the current rate, by 2050, the ocean will have more plastic than fish!
The sad thing about this warning is that the pollution humans are responsible for kills other kinds of marine animals, reptiles, and birds. One of the most prominent ocean pollution facts has been published in Scientific American.
It has been concluded that dumping in the rivers and oceans led to the decline of the marine life population by 55 percent between 1970 and 2019! That is about half the population of marine life across over ten species studied.
In this article, we explore what ocean pollution is, and look at some ocean pollution facts that are worrying.
Marine pollution also ocean pollution involves the spread of harmful substances like agricultural, industrial, and plastic waste into the ocean. Dumping oil and other chemical parts into the sea also contributes to ocean pollution.
Facts about Ocean Pollution
Here are more astonishing facts about ocean pollution you should know:
1. 90% Of Ocean Pollution Can Be Traced to Ten Rivers
Most plastics improperly disposed of on land or dumped into waterways go to the rivers into the oceans. The surprising fact is that only ten river systems in two continents are responsible for most of the pollution in the oceans according to a study.
These are Yangtze, Indus, Hai He, Yellow, Pearl, Ganges, Amur, and Mekong in Asia and Nile and Niger in Africa. The main reason that a lot of plastic waste is ending in the ocean is because of high populations living in areas on the banks of these rivers, and less than ideal waste management.
The Yangtze River is the largest conveyor of plastics that pollutes the ocean, but then, it also an invaluable ecologically since it feeds more than 500 million people.
2. 3 In Every Four Ocean Pollutants Are Plastics
The National Geographic found that almost 75 percent of all beach and ocean litter is plastic. On the beaches, there was a significant number of other pollutants made from non-biodegradable materials such as cigarette butts, bottles and bottle caps polystyrene pieces, and food wrappers made from synthetic materials.
The trend is worrying considering that a plastic bottle can last for as long as ten years in the ocean, yet, on average, a plastic bag is used for 12 minutes. When it gets to the sea, it gradually defragments into smaller and smaller pieces, which are as deadly to a significant number of marine life.
Ecowatch has published a report that paints a grim picture of marine life in the next century unless drastic changes and plastics eliminated since we have proven unable to recycle.
3. There Is Ten Billion Tons of Plastic of All Sizes In The Ocean
Hundreds of thousands of years after we are gone, excavators on Earth will probably refer to our civilization as the age of plastics. Annual global plastic production skyrocketed in the early 1950s, peaking at 322 million tons by 2015 – the weight equivalent to about 800,000 Eiffel Towers!
Based on findings published in The Guardian, this is close to ten billion tons of plastics produced over 65 years, and only about 9 percent of it has been recycled. The figure does not even include synthetic fibers such as those used in ropes and clothing among other products.
The biggest culprits that carry the most blame are beverage companies and snack companies who package their chips and crisps in plastic bags. About a million plastic bottles are bought every minute around the world, and this could increase by as much as 20 percent by 2021. These two food industries alone are responsible for as much as five trillion plastic pollutants drifting the oceans now. It’s enough debris to cover the planet 400 times over.
4. The Largest Garbage Islands in The World Are Thrice the Size of France
Half-way between California and Hawaii there is a sizeable offshore plastic accumulation zona in the world. The artificial plastic island called The Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is one of the five largest accumulation zones that is about 1.5 million square kilometers – thrice the size of France or twice the size of Texas.
To put this in perspective, the team of researchers who sampled the patch at different locations required two flights over the spot for aerial imagery, a fleet of 30 boats for staff and equipment, and 652 surface nets.
Most people fail to see the severity of the ocean pollution facts when presented to them because large numbers are very deceiving. The GPGP keeps growing every minute, and new plastic islands are forming as more of it goes into the ocean.
5. Over 1 Million Marine Animals and Seabirds Die Due to Ocean Pollution Every Year
Pollution in the ocean is so dire that as many as a million birds and animals that depend on it die every year due to plastic ingestion. The University of Queensland, Australia, has collected data showing the harm caused by plastics to marine life since the late 1980s.
This revealed that sea turtles may now be ingesting twice as much plastic as they did 20 years ago. These findings were corroborated by a presentation made to The United Nations showing that as many as 90%of all seabirds and fish have plastic particles in their stomachs.
If this does not scare you enough, close to 700 species of marine animals, birds, and fish are facing extinction due to ocean pollution, and in particular, plastics, based on a publication on Nature World News.
6. There Are Other Pollutants as Deadly as Plastics
You have probably heard that there is more plastic in the ocean than there are stars in our galaxy. That was not an exaggeration – it is a fact. By the end of 2017, there were roughly two pieces of plastic debris in the ocean for every plankton.
While this seems scary as it is, you must also remember that plastics form the majority of waste that goes into the sea. Other materials that are as imperishable and harmful to the planet are aluminum, rubber tires, lead, cigarettes, synthetic clothing materials, and glass bottles.
Unless the debris is handled over the next half-decade, experts predict that pollutants will outweigh fish in the ocean by the year 2050. Terrifying thought, isn’t it.
7. The World’s Most Polluted Island is Uninhabited
The ocean is more affected by pollution most of which originates from the continents. In Henderson Island, an inhabited island in the South Pacific Ocean between Chile and New Zealand, the beach is littered with articles and debris.
The origins can be traced to China, Europe, the US, Russia, Japan, and South America. Estimates show that because of its location next to ocean currents, as many as 3,500 to 5,000 pieces of trash, mostly plastics, are put on to the shores of the tiny Henderson’s islands every day.
By analyzing the contents of debris that ended up in an island in the middle of nowhere (literally), researchers say that this estimated is not a true reflection of the trash that’s on the islands. The report shows that this is because some areas have the debris buried up to 4 inches (30 cm) deep on the beach and the wind has carried a significant amount of it further inland.
8. Plastic Is Banned in Some Countries
We have tried recycling, and even burning, but plastic refuses to die. When the world began realizing the truth in the many ocean pollution facts published over the decades, different countries tried to come up with practical ways to accommodate plastics while minimizing the harm it causes.
We tried responsible use and cleanups, but they failed. Many end-of-life solutions such as recycling and proper disposal failed too. Incineration too failed because of the over-production of plastics, and the invention of biodegradable plastics turned out to be less than an ideal replacement.
Around the world, countries are beginning to admit that the only way to deal with the ocean pollution problem is to ban plastics. In 2017, Kenya became the first country to issue a blanket ban on the use of certain types of plastics. Other countries that have recently passed laws restricting the use of, or heavily taxing plastics to deter their use include Rwanda, Italy, France, and China.
70% of the planet Earth is water. Many people who ignorantly discard trash often assume that it does not affect them directly and will eventually end up in the ocean, disintegrate, and disappear. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a lot of power in information, which is why the best place for humanity to beginning reversing the effects of pollution in the ocean is education.
More people, communities, and most importantly corporations need to consider the threat pollution poses to thousands of entire animal species. Perhaps soon we will learn to make responsible disposal of litter everyone’s responsibility.
Jane is news writer presenting the latest trending information as it's released. She's spends most of her time sourcing premium news from our top sources bringing fresh updates to her loyal subscribers. She loves ice-cream and her dog Sally!