When people think of pollution, they usually only think of air pollution but not the pollution of our oceans. When there’s a large pile of pollution in a part of the ocean it’s called a Garbage Patch, and one of the largest garbage patches is in the Pacific Ocean. It’s actually known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In technical terms, it’s a gyre of debris particles located in the north Pacific Ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of many collections of plastic and trash that floats on top of our oceans today. A lot of this plastic comes from our beaches, from people not throwing their trash or thinking that tossing it in the ocean will be the equivalent of throwing it in a trash can. But little do these people know, all this trash stays on the ocean’s surface and even sometimes floats to the ocean floor where different marine animals can get tangled up in the trash or even inhale and suffocate. One of the most common examples is of the sea turtles. Sea turtles get their fins, heads, and shells trapped in the trash and plastic and it causes their shells to mold around the plastic, their fins getting so stuck they can’t move properly, and they can even suffocate from the plastic and trash.
Many people may believe that there’s only small patches of debris in the ocean, but according to researchers, in the pacific garbage patch alone, there’s 1.6 million square kilometers of plastic, trash, and debris, there’s 80,000 metric tons of plastic alone, just in one single patch. A lot of the trash can’t be seen from the sky due to how wide spread it is, but according to researchers, the patch is said to be spreading quite rapidly. With the plastic at 80,000 tons, that is almost 16 times more than when it was previously calculated.
One of the most overlooked things, is the effect the pollution has on not only the marine life but also on human life as well. A big problem with the trash, is that due to the color and size, many animals actually confuse it with food. Because of this, they become malnourished and leads to a list of health issues and can even threaten the existence of the species. Out of 700 species that have been affected by marine debris, 17% of those species are on the Red List of threatened species. With a large group of marine animals migrating almost every day, it’s almost impossible for them to not run into any debris, especially when there’s 180x more plastic than there is even marine life. But, not only does this effect the marine life, it also effects human life also. Once the plastic enters the food web of the marine animals, there’s a high possibly that it could move into our food chain and contaminate the food that we eat. The sad thing is that even trying to eradicate the pollution, it still causes a huge financial burden. Plastic pollution has actually costed us almost 13 Billion dollars a year. The pollution can affect the human food chain by a process called bioaccumulation, or when plastics enter the body of a prey animal, and the prey animal gets eaten by a feeder, the chemicals will pass through the predator and can make their way into our food chain.
Many people shove it off because they’re oblivious of the effects that our trash and debris have on the marine life and the ocean its self. But sooner or later the effects are going to hit us humans and by then it might be too late to fix it. We’re already losing hundreds of species and threatening hundreds of more, what are we going to do when we wipe out half of the marine life just because we’re too lazy to throw our trash in actual trash cans and dispose of it the correct way instead of throwing it into the ocean. We’re losing Billions of dollars due to the pollution also, so when will it stop? More people need to become more aware of the effects our actions have on the earth and the other living things on it.