The main effect that pollution has on the ocean is to kill the flora and fauna that inhabit it. It does this because many people have a total disregard to the poisonous materials that are dumped into the ocean on an hourly basis. We basically treat the ocean as a landfill without thinking about the long-range effects that will take place. When the ocean is polluted, the smaller organisms are affected first. The small plankton that provide food for so many of the ocean inhabitants are among the first to die.
When the plankton are gone, the whales will leave that area as well as the other ocean life that thrive on them. The shrimp will soon follow the plankton and as the pollution levels grow, so does the number of fish and other marine life that is affected. The delicate oceanic plant life is also affected and will cease to either thrive or die as the ocean water becomes more polluted.
But what causes ocean pollution? Some of the most common pollutants are oil, chemicals, wastewater, and garbage. Off-shore oil drilling and tanker ships carrying oil are responsible for the oil spills that take place in the ocean. When there is an oil spill it coats the surface of the water and prevents oxygen from being available to marine life. Marine mammals such as sea otters and marine birds such as seagulls are devastated by the thick oil that coats their bodies. Unless they are lucky enough to be rescued they face certain death.
Chemicals and toxic waste are introduced constantly into the ocean by fresh-water tributaries. The tributaries carry herbicides and pesticides from farms, and toxic chemicals from factories and plants. As irrigation water runs down to the rivers it carries with it every chemical that has been sprayed upon the fields that it runs down from. These chemicals kill marine life that has no resistance to it at all. The toxic chemicals from plants and factories are poisonous to every living thing including those in the ocean.
At one time barges hauled bags of garbage out to the ocean and dumped it into the ocean. No one thought anything about it at the time. Many things in the garbage that was dumped were not biodegradable. It stayed in its original form to this day. Plastic and metal garbage were eaten by ocean life and they sometimes died from eating them. The bags of garbage would land on delicate ocean plants and crush them. The pollution that resulted in the garbage bags being dumped would kill the plants in and around the areas where they were dumped and remove a food source for many species of marine life.
Sometimes the fish that eat the pollutants don’t die right away. They swim to other areas where they are eaten by other fish or marine life. Now that animal is poisoned by the food that they ate. Sometimes before the second animal dies it is caught by a fisherman and served to a person who becomes ill because of the poison that the first animal was exposed to. This vicious circle repeats itself everyday. Pollution is slowly killing our ocean as the minutes tick away. The only way to stop our oceans from becoming poisonous cesspools is to stop the pollution now and take steps to repair the damage that has already been done.