How Ocean Pollution Affects Humans
by Torben Lonne
It is strange to think that the ocean covers over 71% of the planet’s surface, however it is extremely vulnerable to human influences. It was previously thought that the ocean is so vast that it could withstand any kind of waste. However, this is not the case and over the past few decades, more and more pollution has been deposited into the oceans either deliberately, naturally or by mistake, however even the smallest mistake can have a monumental impact on marine life, plants, habitats and mankind.
One of the biggest factors of pollution is plastic. Plastic is deadly to marine creatures and can destroy their habitats. Every year over 8 million tons of plastic is being dumped into the ocean. Even though these waste sites are located hundreds of miles offshore, it still finds it way back to our beaches and coastlines. This plastic, in all its forms can be extremely dangerous to humans that either ingest it or even come into contact with it. Coming into contact with these plastics just by swimming in the ocean around them can cause severe diarrhoea, vomiting and skin rashes.
Not only is plastic detrimental to the oceanic environment, other factors, which contribute to pollution, include toxic chemicals that are deliberately dumped into the ocean from industrial sources. Oil, asbestos, lead, petrochemicals, phosphates, nitrates and mercury all have harmful affects on marine life and even our food chain. The smallest of marine life, known as plankton, absorb these toxic chemicals. These chemicals are extremely difficult to break down, causing the concentration within their tiny bodies to increase, the longer they are exposed to the chemicals. Further up the food chain, the small sea creatures then eat these plankton in large numbers, therefore increasing the concentration again. Even further up the food chain, larger marine species then eat the smaller marine creatures, increasing the concentration even further. Humans then find these larger marine creatures on our plates. If humans are exposed to these toxic chemicals in large quantities for prolonged amounts of time, this can lead to all sorts of illnesses and diseases these include; heart disease, Alzheimer’s and even Parkinson’s disease.
Knowing what is causing ocean pollution and how we as individuals can make a change, is the first step. Once you understand how vital this system is to our survival, you will want to take every measurable step to help make a change and protect our oceans for this generation and for the generations yet to come.
Torben Lonne is a top skilled PADI Scuba Instructor and Expert in the Scuba Diving industry. He has worked several years with scuba diving in Indonesia and Thailand – and dived most of his life. When not diving, Torben is working behind the scenes of DIVE.in as co-founder and chief-editor.
If you would like to learn more about ocean pollution and its affects on marine life and mankind, take a look at the fascinating infographic below, created by the team at divein.com.
How ocean pollution affects humans – Graphic by the team at DIVE.in