It is a well-known fact that nearly 70% of the earth is filled with water. Oceans and seas form an indispensable part of our existence. This factor of indispensability has not only helped us tremendously but has also led to us exploiting the oceanic resources without any second thoughts.
One of the main causes of pollution of the oceans is ocean dumping. The answer to the question ‘what is ocean dumping’ is quite simple.
Dumping involves depositing all the waste materials from factories and industries, tankers and ships and sewerage waste materials into the oceans and seas. Dumping of plastic is another example of oceanic dumping, which leads to adverse effects.
Materials like plastic are non-degradable which means they will not be absorbed and recycled. When oceanic creatures and even birds consume plastic inadvertently, they choke on it which causes a steady decline in their population. The Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch is a very good example of plastic being hazardous.
The discharge of ballast water also causes problem by way of ocean waste. Ballast water tends to proliferate and transfer organisms that debilitate the growth of naturally occurring fishes in a particular oceanic area.
The adverse effects of marine pollution are two-fold. Marine creatures and plants bear the brunt of the harmful substances in the dumped materials. The wastes that are dumped into the oceans tend to have toxic substances which soak in all the oceanic oxygen. This leads to a marked depletion of oxygen available to mammals and other fishes causing them to die in their natural habitat. Also, in case the dumping ground is closer to areas where fishing is a main scale activity and if the toxic substances get consumed by the fishes which gets deposited and accumulated in their fat tissues, then the humans consuming these affected fishes can face unwanted complications.
Some of the materials emitted by the industrial wastes and sewage wastes contain materials like mercury, cryolite and DDT. Certain industrial wastage also includes radioactive materials. Even small amounts of these substances tend to have negative effects. The scale and the magnitude of the ocean dumping are not just vast but are so huge, that our entire civilisation could be wiped out with the intensity of careless dumping.
Spilling of oil from tankers and offshore rigs into the oceanic area is also another example of sea pollution. Spilling of oil can happen inadvertently where small doses of oil are leaked into the oceans by the tanker ships or in a massive scale where gallons and gallons of oil are leaked into the water surface of the ocean. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has caused problems to birds among the other marine creatures whose wings had gotten covered by the slick, causing them to die a slow and painful death.
Mines where ores are drilled and even certain military cantonments where nuclear activity is carried out, dispose of their wastes in the ocean. Dumping sewage in the ocean has always been considered the cheapest and the easiest way of disposing wastes. This is why in certain water parts, dead bodies are also dumped and disposed off which end up polluting the water body completely.
In order to prevent further degradation of the oceanic environment and the eco-system several laws and regulations have been enacted. The London Convention of 1975 is one of the prominent ones, while other laws include the Clear Water Act (CWA) and the Ocean Dumping Act (ODA) which have been established by the United States to tackle the problem of pollution of the ocean.
Ocean dumping was once considered as a necessity. In today’s times, however it has become a hindrance. Since we use and misuse the oceanic resources, it becomes our responsibility to take care to preserve it in every way we can.
You might also like to read-What is the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch?