Ocean Pollution: Challenges, Efforts, and Impact
The focus of my group’s project was ocean conservation. The oceans are one of Earth’s best gifts to humans, beautiful ecosystems growing with life that provide fresh food to jobs that millions of people can enjoy. These oceans may seem perfectly fine, and there wouldn’t be any major difficulties and concerns, but that’s not the case. The oceans and coral reefs are getting destroyed each and every day. The ocean has been a major concern due to trash and human interaction.
Ocean conservation is a method that is working to save some of those concerns. This type of conservation works to save marine animals and the coral reefs. While what we did in the past will always affect the future, there is always time to create a better outcome, and that all starts by understanding the problem that we are creating. Using the eight lenses, economic, environmental, futuristic, cultural and social, artistic, political and historical, and scientific, my group is focusing on the benefits of helping the ocean life and what are the problems with the ocean. This research question was made from researching controversial topics, and this topic intrigued us.
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The future and environmental
The future of the ocean is dependent on how we handle situations like plastic, trash, coral Acidification, and Destruction of Habitats. Plastic is the leading cause of turtle death. Turtles will eat the left-out plastic like fishing gear, food wrappers, and bottles, and once it gets into their system, it kills the sea turtles in the digestive system. Turtles can also get tangled in the left-out plastic, and that can kill them. Pollution disrupts nesting behavior and causes hatchling death by leading them away from the sea. Another way turtles are dying is a way called direct take; direct take is when sea turtles and their eggs are killed by people throughout the world for food and for products, including oil, leather, and shell.
Six of the seven sea turtle species are classified as threatened or endangered due to human actions and lifestyles. One way we can stop this from happening is to reduce fishing nets and fishing lines from getting into the ocean and also recycle properly, meaning throw your trash into the trash can. Most people tend to just leave a wrapper on the beach, thinking that it will not cause any damage; well, they were wrong. That little wrapper that they left on the beach is now in turtles or fish stomachs. Another leading cause for the ocean needing saving is coral reef acidification.
Coral acidification refers to a reduction in the pH of the ocean over an extended period of time caused primarily by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Over 52 percent of the coral reefs have died due to coral acidification. On the website www.independent.co.uk, Elena B. put the title “More than 90% of the coral reef will be dead by 2050.” This made me wonder why the corals would be almost gone in just 30 years. Elena states how, just in the past 30 years, over half of the coral reefs have been killed due to coral acidification and coral bleaching.
The coral can die due to the temperature changing even 1.8 degrees; this causes coral bleaching that kills the coral reefs. If the water were to cool down, then the coral reefs could restore themselves and become the beautiful reefs we know them to be. One way we could save the coral reefs is to either train the coral reefs to get used to the heat intake they take or reduce the number of people going exploring the coral reefs. Some coral reefs die out due to human interaction; people tend to want to touch the reefs. If a human touches the reefs, they will die. The sunscreen that most people use comes off in the water, clings to the coral reefs, and coats them with chemical ingredients.
Art has been a newer way to save the ocean; places like SeaWorld use plastic found near or in the ocean to make art sculptures. Art activist uses art as a way to communicate with people all around the world about ocean destruction. The goal is to raise awareness and change the environmentally damaging habits that people and countries do to the ocean. Younger people are more likely to be intrigued by art, and if we use art in a positive way for the ocean, younger people will learn that the ocean needs to be saved and we need to do everything and anything possible to save it. Art comes in all different types and forms; art doesn’t just have to be painted on a canvas or a sculpture. It can be a bracelet or necklace.
A company called 4ocean used its brand to make bracelets that support ocean conservation. The bracelet is made out of all recycled products found on the beach. Wearing the 4ocean bracelet identifies you as a member of their team; they fight for a clean ocean. I learned that every bracelet purchased can clean out a pound of trash from the ocean, which is incredible. Another brand that uses its brand to help save the ocean is Pura Vida. They have multiple charities that they support, but one of their bracelets is directed toward the coral reefs called “Save the coral reefs,” and another is dedicated to the Surfrider Foundation.
They give around 5% of their profit to those foundations. If you go to SeaWorld, you may notice a particular garden; this garden is the “SEA garden.” This “garden” is four sculptures made from coastal trash they have collected during coastal cleanups. Visitors will come across thousands of pieces of trash, from aluminum cans and plastic bottles to styrofoam and old brushes that either washed ashore or were abandoned on the beach. Seaworld has made four animal sculptures they have made a seahorse, an octopus, a sea anemone, and an octopus.
Historical and political lens
The environmental movement of ocean conservation began in 1972. One thing that brought attention to the need for ocean conservancy was the ‘Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas Agreement of 1966. In 1972, the US government prohibited anyone who did not have a license to fish or hunt marine life within the United States. According to https://fourfish.org/a/pe3l-UQimmN5m, “Since then, most of the waste dumped in American waters are dredged materials that are permitted beforehand by the EPA. Before disposal, these materials are evaluated to ensure that they won’t cause any harmful effects to either humans or the marine environment.”.
The following year, in 1973, the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, created the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. They aimed to reduce the amount of marine pollution caused by ships. In 1993, Dr.Elliot published Global Marine Biological Diversity (https://marine-conservation.org/who-we-are/history/). This book ended up being the most cited book on marine conservation. To get more scientists to apply their understanding to marine conservation decision-making, he founded the Marine Conservation Biology Institute in 1996 (which became the Marine Conservation Institute in 2011).
On the flip side of this topic, many countries put trash into the ocean, thinking that they are doing no harm. The top six countries for ocean garbage are China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Americans alone generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste per year, but they only recycle 1-2 % of it. Around 14 billion pounds of trash, mostly plastic, is dumped into the world’s oceans every year. The ocean is around 88% full of trash.
Without the ocean, all life would be different; the Earth would be one huge desert. The ocean is one of the biggest if not the biggest, support systems for Earth and living. A lot of ocean conservation has been successful, but nothing will fully be fixed until all of the problems get resolved, which means no trash, no extra amount of fishing, and no chemicals in the ocean.
- Independent. (n.d.). More than 90% of the world’s coral reefs will be dead by 2050. Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/coral-reefs-dead-2050-90-per-cent-global-warming-pollution-fishing-a7378851.html
- Four Fish. (n.d.). The role of seafood in a balanced diet. Four Fish. https://fourfish.org/a/pe3l-UQimmN5m
- Marine Conservation Institute. (n.d.). Our history. Marine Conservation Institute. https://marine-conservation.org/who-we-are/history/