As the world uses more and more man made synthetics and chemicals, the risk of these ending up in the world’s oceans and other waterways increases. Companies and private citizens have been negligent in their control of pollutants like these for years, and over time, it takes its toll on water quality. Marine life and vegetation necessary to maintain the natural food chain, suffer the most. People, of course, suffer whenever these two factions are in danger.
Pollutants such as chemical runoff and oil spills are the most detrimental to marine life, and the wildlife that lives and nests along the oceans. As we have seen from the recent oil spills, the contamination of the ocean kills fish, and birds, depletes oxygen in the water, and causes a breakdown of the natural food chain. It also affects the quality and safety of seafood that is the mainstay of the fishing industry.
Chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, and others that wash into the ocean from streams and rivers, especially during flooding, produce “dead zones” where the increased nutrients from the fertilizers increase algae growth, depleting oxygen in the water and discouraging or preventing other marine life from inhabiting the area.
Over the years, the oceans have been used as garbage dumps for cities and private citizens alike. This casual pollution of ocean water, and the increase in foreign, and sometimes dangerous, materials that have been deposited affects every living creature in the ocean, not to mention the quality of the water that humans come in contact with and the condition of coastal wildlife areas and beaches. Fishing nets, ropes and other debris can literally suffocate coral. And, other debris can be ingested by marine animals, or they may become entangled in it and be unable to move. According to the EPA, the debris may alter the natural vegetation and life of an area of the ocean to the extent that it, in turn, alters the entire eco system. Debris can actually introduce new and invasive species to any area, disrupting all marine life.
These changes in the ocean of course, have a direct effect on everyone, from the fisherman who makes his living from the sea, to the consumer of seafood products, to the beach goer that is faced with a polluted beach area. Everything that enters the ocean that is not part of the natural composition has a direct effect on the food chain, and the lives of the plants and animals that live there.