Do you like looking at the ocean, thinking of its vastness, admiring its beauty, imagining the world living in there? Who wouldn’t, right? Well, the oceans do deserve our admiration and even more our protection! As the largest ecosystem on Earth, it is the planet’s life support system; they offer us conditions for life. Oceans generate half of the oxygen we breathe and, they provide at least a sixth of the animal proteins people eat, absorb a quarter of the carbon dioxide created by human activities and reduce climate change impacts. Our security, economy, and survival require healthy oceans.
Today the oceans are under major threats like acidification, overfishing, or disposal of plastic and pollution. Time to understand why it’s a big deal!
Acidification is one of the greatest threats to our oceans. It results from carbon dioxide mixing with water forming carbonic acid. In other terms, acidification is the PH reduction of the oceans because of the carbon dioxide produced by human activities and dissolving in rivers, lakes and the oceans. The dissociation of carbonic acid molecules into a hydrogen ion and a bicarbonate ion increase the acidity of the oceans. The decrease in the PH, although could seem very insignificant to us, is actually pretty bad. It is particularly bad for creatures with calcium carbonate in their shells or skeletons, like mollusks, crabs, and corals. Acidic water makes it harder for them to grow those shells, so many of them are going to have a hard time surviving as our seas change. Those creatures being at the basis of the marine food change, their difficulties to survive is sure to impact all the rest of the marine biodiversity. And there is no magic trick to reverse this effect...
The second threat to our oceans is overfishing. Contrary to the general idea that fish is a limitless resource, they are among other forms of aquatic life a very finite one. During the last 50 years the increase of fishing activities, the unsustainable fishing methods developed by the industry have led fish stocks to a collapse point. Indeed, fishing has reached a higher rate than the one at which reproduction is taking place.
It’s not only threatening the balance of the ecosystems but as well, a lot of populations. Billions of people, especially on coastal areas, are still depending on fishing to reach their nutritious needs and get enough proteins.
Finally, plastic pollution of course! We estimate that about eight tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year. Human activities like farming, residence, and production are the leading cause of littering in the ocean. Going by the fact that plastics are nonbiodegradable means that any plastics dumped in the ocean is bound to remain there forever thus disrupting the co-existence of marine life.
Plastic affects ocean ecosystems in various ways, among them we can remember that it affects every type of life in the oceans and a report says that one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals died every year due to plastic ingestion.
Let’s not forget that as all ocean life is ingesting micro-plastics and toxic substances released by plastic garbage in the ocean, we are then ingesting it when we are eating fish or shellfish. Human health is then directly threatened by our own pollution.
Oceans are not just beautiful, they are foundations for human life on earth, let’s not forget that.
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