Sunday, June 10, 2018

Marine Animals: Trash or Treasure

We are living at a time in history when there are more people on earth than ever before creating more trash on earth than ever before.  Where's it all going? 

Beach Debris

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "Each year, billions of pounds of trash and other pollutants enter the ocean."  

Trash in the ocean doesn't make a sound.  The ocean masks it's smell.  We don't have to taste it.  A lot of it is hidden underwater, out of our sight.  And---unless we're swimming or diving in the ocean---we'll never have to touch it.

But we are not the only animals living on this planet.

How Does Trash Impact Marine Animals?

Marine animals are the one of the ocean's treasures.  Unfortunately, they are the ones being affected by the trash floating in the ocean and are helpless to do anything about it.

Divers Freeing a Monk Seal

  • Habitat Damage:  Coral is a very important habitat for juvenile marine animals.  But coral reefs are being broken and smothered by marine debris.   Once this habitat is gone, the young animals chance of survival weakens.

  • Entanglement:  Other animals become entangled in trash floating in the ocean.  It could be old fishing line, a fishing net, a discarded rubber band, an old balloon string, some rope, or even a six-pack ring.  Unless a trapped animal is rescued, it will probably die.

  • Ingestion:  Another huge problem arises when marine animals like sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees accidently eat debris.  The debris can look like food to a marine animal, or it may even be attached to a favorite food, like fish eggs. Once ingested, the debris can block the animal's digestive system, leading to injury, starvation, or death.

  • Invasive Species:  Some small marine animals attach themselves to debris and travel hundreds of miles to a habitat where they are a non-native.  Now an invasive species, these little hitchhikers can wreck havoc on local plants and animals.  It is costly to eradicate them.

How Can We Help?

  • Now is the time to help the marine animals before these treasures are gone.  No amount of effort is too small.  Here are some ways to start:

  • Land debris can find it's way into the ocean if it is not placed into appropriate receptacles.  Loose trash is blown into rivers and lakes where is travels the waterways into the ocean.  Participating in community clean-ups can help.

  • Most of the debris in the ocean is plastic.  We can help if we do our best to eliminate as much plastic from our life style as possible.  One way is to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.  Another way is to replace disposable water bottles with a refillable bottle.

  • The best way to keep debris out of the ocean is to reduce the amount of trash we create.  Reusing and recycling is a great way to start.

  • Get others on board by sharing the news of what you are doing to help the ocean. 

More Information:

Click here for more information about Six Ways To Care For Our Ocean.

Click here for more information about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

If we all work together, we can save our treasures from a trashy existence.

Research Sources:

1.  "Stone Crab Fishery Could Be Challenged By Ocean Acidification, Study Suggests".  Web.  14 Mar. 2018.  Mote Laboratory and Aquarium.   <>.

2.  "Ocean Pollution".  Web.  10 Jun. 2018.  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  <>. 

3.  "Marine Debris Program: Office of Response and Restoration".  Web.  11 Jun. 2018.  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  <>.

4.  "Nurdles the Problem."  Web.  11 Jun. 2018.  Nurdle Free Ocean: Reducing Plastic Pollution in Our Seas.  <>

Image Credits:

1.  "Beach Debris" by paulbr75 is licensed under CCO Creative Commons

2.  "Freeing a Monk Seal" by Ray Boland.  Image ID: NOAA/NMFS/PIFDESOD.  National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.

3. "Recycle bin" by Clker-Free-Vector-Images is licensed under CCO Creative Commons

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