How Water Pollution Affects Marine Animals

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The pollution of seas and oceans is a growing reality in these times and this has serious consequences for marine life, such as disorientation problems, alterations in food chains, toxicity to marine fauna, destruction of marine ecosystems and even ends There are also consequences for the human being.

In this Green Ecologist article we will see exclusively how water pollution affects marine animalsIt is necessary to become aware of the damage that this great environmental problem entails for everyone and not only for people.

What is marine or sea and ocean pollution

Pollution is defined as the introduction of harmful pollutants into an ecosystem where they are not common. Greenpeace estimates that between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic reach the oceans every year, something equivalent to the weight of 800 Eiffel towers, 34 times the length of Manhattan Island or the weight of 14,285 Airbus A380 aircraft) . Every second more than 200 kg of garbage ends up in the oceans and there are already up to 5 islands of microplastic garbage (mostly) in the terrestrial oceans: two in the Pacific, two in the Atlantic and one in the Indian Ocean. Most of this garbage (up to 80%) comes from terrestrial ecosystems and it is estimated that by 2022 it may reach 500 million tons.

These microplastics are of different types, but fundamentally of four kinds:

  • Polyethylene: such as plastic bags, bottles or microspheres from cosmetic products.
  • Polyester: such as clothing fabrics.
  • Polypropylene: as the material contained in electrical appliances, garden furniture or vehicle components.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride: like the material of pipes or windows.

Many of these plastics are not incinerated or recycled and end up floating down the waterways and reaching the oceans.

But not all Marine contamination they are plastics. Pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides from intensive agriculture also end up seeping into the land and contaminating aquifers, until they finally reach the sea. Other pollutants are slurry from livestock farms, dyes used in the textile industry, chemical products, heavy metals, radioactive materials from factories or some household products.

Other kind of pollution of the marine environment is the acoustics. This contamination may be due to the increasingly common presence of high-powered sounds coming from sonars, oil installations, ships or natural sources, such as earthquakes, which can spread long distances without losing intensity and negatively affect wildlife.

Learn more about this great environmental problem in this other Green Ecologist article on Marine Pollution: causes and consequences.

How water pollution affects marine animals: consequences

All this mixture of chemicals in the sea is ideal for the development of plants such as sea lentils, lemna or algae and dangerous bacteria, protozoa and fungi, which can be harmful to marine organisms.

For example, the development of algae on the surface of the water that restrict the passage of light to the deep sea, which is known as eutrophication process, which is used by plants to produce oxygen, on which invertebrates and other marine animals depend. Other species of blue-green algae produce toxic substances that kill fish and other aquatic organisms. Other animals such as dolphins, migratory whales, sea turtles, sharks, rays or seals are injured or killed by ingesting marine debris or by being trapped with it, especially by plastics.

Some cetaceans, such as whales, are especially affected by noise pollution in our oceans. This is because in their long migrations, they use many sounds to orient themselves. Due to this contamination, they can become disoriented by increasing, for example, the number of strandings.

How many marine animals die per year from water pollution

For the contamination of the water, 1.5 million birds, fish, turtles and whales die every year in the sea, but even if they are not killed, it is estimated that in the North Pacific, up to 30% of fish have ingested plastic at some point in their life cycle.

For example, the northern right whale is particularly affected by entrapment and is currently in danger of extinction. Four other species of whales, such as fin whale, humpback whale, blue whale or Bryde's fin whale, are among the vulnerable species. Up to 65% of the whales have been able to suffer some kind of entrapment in their life, of which up to 20% die. In sperm whales, in addition, the ingestion of these wastes crushes their intestines and toothed whales usually ingest them when they play, explore or feed. In seals, plastics have been found in up to 11% of North Sea seals. Baltic gray seals, for example, had a high content of PCBs, chemical and industrial products in their body, which damaged their immune system and is believed to be the cause of the mass deaths from a virus in the late 1980s.

In short, in addition to animals that die directly due to entrapment or ingestion of contaminantsThose who die more indirectly, due to accumulated damage over years or strandings, must be added to them.

Possible solutions to marine pollution

Possible solutions to marine pollution They may be:

  • Reduction of emissions in means of transport.
  • Reduction or greater control of industrial discharges.
  • Control of agricultural activities to reduce discharges.
  • Dispose of, recycle or incinerate waste properly.
  • Filter the water.
  • Raise public awareness about their activities in the water.

Here we give more options of Solutions for water pollution.

If you want to read more articles similar to How Water Pollution Affects Marine Animals, we recommend that you enter our Pollution category.

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