The Effect of Plastic Pollution on Marine Life

By: Ella Garbarsky

Imagine that you're standing in beautiful, crystal clear waters. You watch as little fish swim through your legs and dolphins frolic along the horizon, deeper out at sea. The beach is clean, and wonderful. The world is a better place. Then, you wake up. This paradise once was a plausible reality, but because of human activities, this reality has diminished into only a dream-kept alive by the dim hope that we can one day return back to normal. 

 

Beaches today are filled with sand, shells, and plastic. Tons and tons of plastic. The issue with plastic is that one single plastic bottle might take over 400 years to decompose in the ocean. Imagine a million plastic bottles in the ocean all taking 400 plus years to decompose. Instead of swimming with fish, you’re now swimming with plastic. 

 

Plastic on Earth’s beaches and oceans is not just unpleasant aesthetically to humans but poses a major issue for marine wildlife. About 700 species of animals have been affected, becoming entangled in plastic, plagued by starvation, or placed at risk due to the accidental consumption of plastic, due to the abundance of plastic in our oceans. Most animals die from consuming too much plastic which gives them the false sensation of being full, but in actuality, they are starving. Plastic is even affecting seabirds. Around 1,000,000 sea birds die every year from plastic pollution. As if this isn’t devastating enough, all of the baby sea turtles who were found to have perished in the past few months, all had traces of some form of plastic inside of them as sea turtles are mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish, therefore consuming even more plastic on a daily basis. Furthermore, corals have been found to carry diseases and become infected when they come in contact with plastic. By the year 2050, there is projected to be more plastic in the ocean than fish. This crisis that humans have created is affecting everything and everyone, as plastic causes harm to the majority of those with which it comes into contact, posing an increasingly significant problem. 

Plastic pollution is a major issue facing society today, and although it may seem irreversible right now, there are a few ways we can help. For starters, try and use biodegradable objects in your everyday life. You can even try to use a biodegradable toothbrush! Try to use reusable glasses and water bottles instead of using plastic ones which are only good for one-time use. There are so many things that you can do to help reduce the level of plastic on our beaches and in our oceans. It won’t be easy to reverse the damage already done, but if we all try a little bit each day, we truly can accomplish something great. 

 

Bibliography

Parker, Laura. "The World's Plastic Pollution Crisis Explained." National Geographic. Last modified June 7, 2019. Accessed November 29, 2021. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/plastic-pollution.

 

Stanton, Lindsey. "100 Ocean Plastic Pollution Statistics & Facts (2021)." It's a Fish Thing. Last modified August 4, 2021. Accessed November 29, 2021. https://www.itsafishthing.com/plastic-in-the-ocean/.