SPITTING UPON THE CRADLE:Ocean pollution
When we are talking about ” ocean pollution ”. firstly i want to tell,Humans have conquered the outer space and have even set foot upon the moon. But there lies an unanswered enigma that people tried to figure for centuries but not succeeded even at present. That is the dynamics of the ocean. Covering over 70% of the surface earth containing almost 97% of planets free water the oceans behold many mysteries. According to the scientists oceans was the cradle for the most primitive and earliest forms of life. The accepted theory is that life on land was also due to the evolution of creatures from the oceans. So oceans were the cradle that all life began. And technically they are still the biggest supporters of life as they are host to over 500 million species and provide various ecosystem services to the rest.
The oceans have been used for anthropogenic activities for thousands of years. But after the industrial revolution the usage of oceans multiplied by several times. Simultaneously the populations of the world also took a rapid leap and increased vigorously henceforth. Hence the topic of ocean pollution came into consideration. All the rivers ending up in the ocean leads to immeasurable pollutants pilling up every second in the world even as you read this. From UNCLOS (United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea) in the 1950s, MARPOL Convention in 1970s and so on there are various regulations implied to restrict this intrusion.
There are many pollutants that enter the oceans through various paths and cause environmental pollution. The main carriers of pollutants to the ocean are the rivers. Considering the Sri Lankan context Kelani River is said to be the river that carries most pollutants from the inlands to the ocean.
From sewage and industrial waste to runoff from agriculture lands all end up at the same place, the ocean. When we generally think we assume the oil spill in the middle of the sea or the toxic waste released from the nuclear plant are the things that cause ocean pollution yet the detergents released from our households untreated may cause the same effect. When considering about oceans acidification causes much trouble to marine life.
Eutrophication or the enrichment with nutrients which causes an imbalance in the oceanic ecosystems is another type of pollution. Debris and plastic pollution are also major types of pollution that take place in the oceans. Toxics also accounts for a large portion of ocean pollution. Further there are factors that we generally do not even think of such as noise pollution that cause severe damages to oceanic environments.
When it comes to acidification the culprit behind is increasing emission of carbon, which leads to higher absorption of carbon by the ocean and hence reduction of the pH. They cause an imbalance to the marine ecosystems, especially to the shellfish species and corals. Plastics in the oceans are another alarming threat as there are said tons of plastic clotted to each forming areas as large as islands upon sea surface.
Along with the plastics comes toxic material as well which also pose a threat to marine life as well as their habitats. The noise also creates serious issues to marine creatures, especially such as whales because they get stranded in these sound conflicts.
The latest culprits of oceanic environments are microplastics or else plastic materials that are in size of millimeters, invisible to the naked eye. Recent studies show that the damage caused by these tiny beads of plastics is greater than its larger counterpart.
The main reason behind that is that these particle level material passes under the radar due to their smallness. These evade people’s eyes and will not be known until they are found inside our own bodies through the seafood we consume. Similarly, accumulation of chemical compounds and nutrients in excessive amounts also causes serious issues in the recent era.
Increased use of pesticides and agrochemicals has been the cause for these massive influxes of chemicals to the ocean. These intrusions change the context of the sea water causing toxigenic effects and higher intrusion of nutrients may cause blooming of cyanobacteria that emit toxins as well.
Ocean pollution is a very broad topic which cannot be compounded to a few hundred words. There are hundreds of researches done and thousands more are ongoing upon this crisis of ocean pollution. What could be said generally is that most point as well as non-point sources of marine pollution are anthropogenic. Even the other causes have their share of human intervention. So simply saying we are the problem or the progeny of problems. Hence we are the ones who have to correct it.
The damage done is done but we still have the opportunity to save what is left. The earth is moving towards a day when even two earths are not enough for the people living on one based on the resources. Hence the time has come to make a change. Or else we humans will be the ones changed.