Top Five Threats to Our Oceans

Water_Pollution_with_Trash_Disposal_of_Waste_at_the_Garbage_Beach Photo Credit: epSos.de

Our Oceans are more delicate than we think. Here are five threats the oceans face and ways you can help to prevent them.

The oceans on planet Earth can capture the spirit and life of so many.  It inspires, motivates and relaxes us. It provides an escape, a place of wonder and cleansing.

Humans often romanticize the ocean, but that same ocean also provides for millions of people on Earth. We have survived and flourished through the use of our ocean. It has provided and given for thousands of years. Unfortunately, through our gains in technology, we have harmed the ocean severely.

So much of the diversity of life that takes place, happens under water in the ocean.  What this indirectly allows humans to do if they admit it or not, is to turn a blind eye. Through human nature, people are more likely to react to a problem when it is visible and obvious.

Through years of abuse and oversight, we have made our ocean more vulnerable than ever in such a short time span. Our leaders in conservation and marine life are identifying the problems that are oceans are experiencing. It is time we need to start listening and taking action.

Overfishing

Through years of irresponsible commercialized and private fishing, we have exhausted the life of our seas. From our shallow waters to the deep, all species of marine life are being affected. Through irresponsible fishing practices, we have allowed for the destruction of whole ecosystems.

Regulations and zones such as Hope Spots have us started in the right path to figuring out this problem but are we too late? Many species are on the verge of extinction and the balance of an ecosystem is constantly in danger.

Pollution

Farming and irrigation practices are major part to growing crops but not many people understand how much of those chemicals end up in our oceans. Farms in the midwest spray their crops each season. Those chemicals get washed into streams, rivers and lakes which eventually find their way to the Mississippi and consequently the Gulf of Mexico. The nitrogen and phosphorous that are pouring in the oceans through every river on Earth create dead zones in our oceans where marine species are unable to survive.

Warming Water Temperatures

Climate Change is always a major topic of conversation while we continue to have people who are unwilling to accept change is occurring due to humans. The amount of carbon dioxide that is released into our atmosphere every year will affect our Earth for centuries to come.

Consequently, the oceans temperatures are also rising from this. A degree change of 0.1 degree Celsius is enough to kill the algae that live on coral and keep them alive. Without this algae, the coral goes through a process known as “bleaching”. A recent documentary name Chasing Coral explored the devastation happening in our shallow water reefs. Members of the Chasing Coral team predict that if we do not intervene in the next 10 years, we will see the demise in coral reefs in our lifetime.

Trash

Right now, there is an area in the Pacific Ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch estimated to be 700,000 square kilometers. The natural circular patterns of ocean currents allow for a center where garbage is trapped in the middle and causes a widespread problem for our seas. Never before has there been a time in human history where we dispose of as much trash and single use plastic as we do today. As a society, we have become more aware of recycling and trying to understand where our trash is going. Still unfortuanelty, a lot of it ends up in the oceans. Here, marine life mistakes much of this trash for food and causes widespread deaths due to the consumption of the trash.

Everybody can start making a difference today with trash. Say no to single use plastics such as straws and bags. Observe all the trash we dispose of on a daily basis and become mindful of our actions.

Habitat Destruction

On top of pollution and over fishing, our marine habitats have to deal with man made habitat destruction. Problems such as the clearing out of mangrove forest in our shallow waters to allow for better fishing and coastal urbanization, we are causing the destruction of habitats that are often widely used for the birth and growth of marine life.

By destroying these natural areas of protection, we are immediately causing the widespread reduction and possible extinction of marine species.

All of these problems are not easily fixed. Thankfully, our marine leaders in our communities are aware of all the problems the oceans face and are working on ways to overcome and restore the damage humans have caused. By becoming mindful of our everyday actions and becoming informed, we as individuals can start the change that we hope to see.

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