Ocean Pollution

What is ocean pollution?

“Ocean pollution is the introduction of harmful contaminants that are outside the norm for a given ecosystem”(1).  Many common man made pollutants reach the ocean such as pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, detergents, oil, sewage, plastics and other solids. These pollutants are then consumed by small organisms and brought into the food chain.


How do the pollutants get into the ocean?

Pollutants often end up in the ocean due to farming. The fertilizers end up in local streams, rivers and groundwater, and then are deposited into bays and deltas. Even solid waste such as bags, foam, and other things are put into the ocean from land or ships. Fishing nets and other indecomposable items can drift in the ocean for years.(1)


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a large area in the ocean full of spinning debris. It is located by the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone where warm water from the South Pacific meets cool water from the Arctic. Trash accumulates because of the circular motion of the water in this area. Most of the trash in the patch is not biodegradable. Plastics make up much of the garbage which often breaks down into smaller pieces and sinks to the bottom of the ocean.(2)

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Animals at Risk

All the waste that is being put into the ocean poses a threat to all of the animals that inhabit the ocean. Seals and other animals can get tangled in floating fishing nets and drown. Even the smallest of organisms such as algae and plankton can be affected from the waste that is put into the ocean. The problem is the trash floating in the ocean blocks the sunlight which prevents organisms such as these from making the nutrients they need. These organisms are the base of the food chain, and when they are affected the entire food chain becomes at risk(2).