It’s somewhat of a controversial topic, some people say that the trash in the ocean has been there for so long that it has created its own ecosystem and is now sustaining life all by its self. Other people argue that we need to do everything we can to restore the oceans to how they were before all of the trash. I personally agree with the latter opinion; I don’t think the trash in the ocean is helping. It’s killing sea life and can actually affect us.
First of all, what is marine debris? Marine debris is any solid material that is intentionally or unintentionally put into the ocean. It can range from soda cans and plastic bags to boat wreckage and abandoned fishing and diving gear. This debris kills and injures marine life. And it affects our safety and human health. About 80% of the trash comes from North America and Asia.
A recent study from early 2015 states that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean.
Of all that only 269,000 tons float on the surface, the rest is in the deep sea. When people throw the trash into the oceans it could catch onto waterways which might lead the trash to one of multiple “Trash Islands” in the oceans. Most people would say that the trash in the ocean is terrible; but research has proven that the trash and garbage is useful, in a really weird way. The giant trash piles in the ocean are making a nice home to multiple different species.
The giant piles make a nice place for animals, especially birds, to lay eggs. And they make a nice home for plankton and other small insects and animals. Even though in some ways the trash is helping, it’s still not ethical to keep the trash in the ocean. The trash releases toxins and that can kill and harm the insects and animals living on or near the trash.
Sea animals like turtles will often ingest the trash, thinking its food. This happens very often. There are tons of sea animals found on beaches that died from suffocating on the trash. Over 1 million sea animals a year. But that’s not the only way they can die from the trash. There is a ton of abandoned fishing gear in the ocean that continues to catch fish, trapping it and wasting it. We are allowing these animals to suffer. And we are allowing ourselves to ruin a world that we don’t even understand yet. Most people don’t realize that the toxins from the trash are also affecting humans. Fish and sea animals eat the trash and then we eat the fish. We are eating tiny bits of plastic and trash. And this will start to affect our health as well.
On top of that, the trash is also ruining ecosystems. Coral reefs are some of the most helpful ecosystems in the ocean. The house and sustain multiple species such as fish, lobsters, clams, sponges, seahorses and even sea turtles. Because of this they are extremely valued and important. But marine debris is destroying these amazing creatures. Large and heavy debris such as nets can crush and damage coral. There are hundreds of lost or abandoned nets in the ocean that can float to a coral reef and destroy it. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are home to a very large ecosystem of coral reefs. But unfortunately, an estimated 52 tons of fishing nets float and end up there every year. They go over the reefs and snag onto them, which pulls and breaks them.
What can we do to help? That’s the big question. And can we even fix it? Well, we shouldn’t give up. There is still hope for the oceans and sea life. Researchers are still trying to figure out the best way to solve this problem. We don’t have a way of cleaning it up because its broken up into miles and miles and the trash is in tiny pieces. The best thing we can do is be more careful about our trash and where it goes. Researchers and multiple organizations are continuously trying to find the best way to clean it up. But after we figure that out, there’s still the big question of what to do with the trash. In conclusion, marine debris is a huge problem and we definitely need to do something about it. It’s not okay to leave the trash in the ocean and continue to pollute the oceans. Even if it’s housing animals and insects. We need to continue to help try and stop the pollution from getting into the ocean and instead try and find a better way of disposing of the trash. Even though we don’t have a solution yet, we can still work towards cleaning the ocean.