Ocean dumping is the act of throwing away waste into the ocean. It could be in the form of solid or chemical materials. Though this practice is regulated and even banned in some places, illegal dumping still occurs.
To fully understand the danger of it all, you need to know these 15 Impacts of Ocean Dumping. It’s something that should not be taken lightly.
1. Dirty Beach
Ocean dumping can turn a beach into a dirty mess. What is supposed to be an open space for many activities is now the ground for garbage to accumulate. The view become unsightly which can hurt tourism opportunities. Both humans and marine life suffer from this. Even though a beach clean-up is carried out, garbage will still end up there if the ocean water is still dirty.
2. Toxic Ocean Water
Garbage doesn’t just end up on the beach. It happens within the ocean water as well. Various kinds of trash float in the ocean. They may take a few days to decompose. Some may take forever. Their level of toxicity varies as well. There could be harmful chemicals dissolving in the water. Plastic will also break down to tiny pieces of destructive microplastics.
See more: Causes of Plastic Pollution in the Ocean
3. Malnutrition in Marine Creatures
Marine creatures can experience malnutrition due to ocean dumping. When there’s an enormous amount of trash spreading in the ocean water, the creatures may mistake them for food. Instead of consuming nutritious food, they take in the waste. Malnutrition could cause a depletion in their population. In the long term, it could lead to mass extinction.
4. Reduced Oxygen in the Ocean
Many marine creatures rely on oxygen to stay alive. But the oxygen level in the ocean can be reduced as it is being replaced by garbage. The waste is bringing down the quality of the ocean water. This affects the availability of the oxygen that marine creatures can get.
Also read: Importance of Oxygen in the Ocean
5. Damages the Organs of Marine Creatures
Ocean dumping can damages the organs of marine creatures. There are so many kinds of toxic elements in the water when garbage ends up there. An even worse scenario is if the dumping involves radioactive materials. Because of all that, the reproductive or the respiratory system of marine creatures may become permanently impaired.
6. Entangle Marine Life
There have been many cases where marine life was found to be entangled in the ocean. Ocean dumping is a main contributor to this. For instance, a sea turtle would be found entangled with a plastic ring that is used to hold beverages. Other kinds of marine life would have a plastic bag that hangs on to a part of their bodies.
See also: Importance of Keeping the Ocean Clean
7. Poisonous Fish
A fish that is exposed for too long in an unhealthy environment may accumulate poisonous materials in its body. One of the most common ones is mercury. It’s a serious issue from ocean dumping as people all over the world consume fish. The fish stock could become less as to prevent people from getting sick.
Read more: Importance of Marine Fisheries Management
8. Health Complications in Humans
Health complications in humans are getting more and more common. In relation with fish that are affected by mercury, humans can suffer in the long term. The food eaten from toxic seas could increase the chances of getting cancer or alzheimer’s disease. This is why polluting the ocean needs to stop.
9. Unhealthy Coral Reef
Coral reef is one of the most diverse and important ecosystem in the ocean. In it, thousands of marine creatures find shelter and thrive in the right environment. But dumping waste into the ocean can make the coral reef unhealthy. As the ocean water becomes increasingly acidic, coral reef could submit to bleaching. It’s devastating and may take many years to recover.
See also: Effects of Pollution on Coral Reefs
10. Kill Sea Birds
Apparently sea birds could be heading down to the path of extinction. These creatures often find their prey in the ocean. However, with all the trash around, they may mistake harmful items as food. Tiny, plastic items often suffocate or choke sea birds. When dead sea birds are dissected, more miscellaneous waste materials are found in their bodies.
11. Prevents Photosynthesis for Marine Plants
Sometimes there’s just too much garbage covering most of the surface layer in the ocean. This reduces the amount of sunlight that can pass through. As a result, photosynthesis can’t be fully carried out, if at all. Marine plants depend on sunlight to survive. But with all the obstruction caused by the floating garbage, they won’t be able to last for too long.
Also read: Importance of Primary Productivity in Ocean
12. Introduce Invasive Species
Invasive species pose as a threat to the ocean. They are responsible for most of the native species’ extinction. The invasive species are distributed through waste in the ocean. They may get dragged along over a long distance and end up where they’re not supposed to be.
13. Worsens Garbage Patch in Oceans
Garbage patch in the oceans is where most of the marine debris are accumulated. The most infamous one is the Great Pacific garbage patch. Dumping waste into the ocean won’t help the situation. Some will always end up into the garbage patch and distributed by ocean currents.
See more: Effects of Ocean Currents
14. Increase Dead Zones
Dead zones are areas in the ocean with extremely low level of oxygen. Thus it cannot support life. Many factors cause the amount of dead zones to increase. Ocean dumping is one of them. Waste makes it worse for dead zones. Marine life who lives on the upper and bottom part of the oceans cannot survive.
Read also: Destruction of Ocean Habitat
15. Disrupts Food Chain
Marine life can’t fully thrive without food chain. It’s a part of nature where the cycle of life is kept at a balance. Ocean dumping may kill off those in the bottom of the food chain, meaning starving those in the upper one. On the other hand, when too many species on the top level die, the smaller ones may overpopulate the ocean.
The effets of ocean dumping could last for centuries and affect all parts of the world. The ocean is a massive space that should be free from any kinds of garbage.