From being regarded as a very vital presence of the contemporary world, plastic has come to be looked upon as a material of immense potential destruction and harm.
As is commonly known, plastic isn’t biodegradable, which accentuates the threat of lingering waste plastic for years and for generations to come. Needless to say, the effects of marine pollution caused by plastic are immeasurable.
Just like on land, even in the oceanic areas, the effect of plastic on marine life has started to be felt. In the recent times considering the increase in the disposal of plastic in the ocean, it has become imperative to take all possible measures to combat this problem.
But before one can do so, one needs to understand the repercussions of plastic in sea, which is necessary to take the protective measures even more sensibly. Among all the threats to the marine environment, the threat from plastic is one of the most dangerous ones.
Some of the ruination of the oceanic domain caused by plastic can be explained as follows:
- Garbage in the ocean – namely plastic – jeopardises the natural ambience of the marine life-forms. Plastic disrupts the entire bio-geo cycle causing unwanted problems to the whole marine eco-system. Several marine species are on the verge of extinction because of such type of ocean pollution.
- Plastic threatens the entire existence of the various marine life-forms right from smaller fishes to huge mammals and amphibians and also to the birds that depend on the oceanic life-forms for their food requirements. Either they suffer because of ingestion of plastic or because of suffocation by merely being tricked by the brighter colours of plastic junk.
- Consumption of plastic by marine creatures causes severe digestive problems which go mainly untreated. Their food pipe starts to be blocked causing the creatures and even the birds that inadvertently consume these materials to be starved, because of food not passing through their gullet. This ultimately leads to their death.
- Ingestion of plastic also in-turn causes ruination of the people who consume marine cuisines. Plastic contains a lot of substances which might otherwise be hazardous. When fishing activities are carried out, there is every chance that fishes infected with such harmful substances might find their way into our household, thereby causing health problems to the end consumers.
- Dispensation of hazardous materials found as a consequence of dumping of plastic includes toxic chemical agents. One such toxic substance is Bisphenol A, found commonly in many plastic commodities. Bisphenol A doesn’t get diluted in water but pollutes the oceanic waters, causing many unwanted problems in its wake. Ocean dumping increased exponentially in the past few years resulting into grave environmental problems.
- Plastic doesn’t always refer to plastic bags or bottles or any other junk. Even stray plastic nets used for fishing and plastic crates cause oceanic ruination by choking life-forms or by getting tangled in precious reefs, causing them to break apart. These nets are known as ‘Ghost Nets’ while the process of marine creatures being tangled in them is referred to as ‘Ghost Fishing.’ In regards to the stray plastic crates, a reference was made about a plastic crate choking a penguin in the movie “Happy Feet.”
- Ruination of the ocean doesn’t also only include the high seas. It also includes the shores and the beaches which are infested with plastic. Such congested areas become easy threats for birds and other land animals that get caught up in the choke-hold of plastic.
- Effects of plastic garbage are also not restricted to the ocean surface. It can either float for miles on the water or they could be submerged on the sea-bed or commonly be found on the sea-shore. Irrespective of the location, the eco-system gets impaired hugely because of such marine debris.
- Ocean garbage in the form of plastic leads to invasion of foreign creatures and organisms in naturally occurring marine colonies. Alga and certain variants of jelly-fishes have been found extensively in areas where originally several different marine forms were found to be occurring. Nutrients needed by the native creatures get absorbed by these foreign creatures. This causes irreparable damage to the oceanic eco-system.
- Oceanic currents also referred to as gyres accumulate plastic within their spiral. The Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch is the best example of such currents accumulating vast amounts of plastic waste into itself. The Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch has thus become an area of extreme priority, when talked about marine clean-ups, in the present times.
Plastic in the sea is a result of human callousness. Presently, even though we are striving hard to clean-up and restore the beauty of the marine eco-system, it would have been in everyone’s better interests to have not polluted the ocean and caused this problem in the first place.
Crew of ships going to the ocean can help in a number of ways to help reduce garbage waste and plastic at the sea. The Garbage Management Plan should be effectively used for this purpose.
Moreover, Cruise ships also pollute the ocean in a number of ways. Special care should therefore be taken to prevent any kind of pollution from them.