The student news site of Central High School

The Grizzly Claw

The High Cost of Convenience

Plastic Pollution Threatens Sea and Human Life

This+green+sea+turtle+is+tangled+in+a+discarded+plastic+fishing+net.
This green sea turtle is tangled in a discarded plastic fishing net.

This green sea turtle is tangled in a discarded plastic fishing net.

Photo Courtesy of NOAA Marine Debris Program via Flickr

Photo Courtesy of NOAA Marine Debris Program via Flickr

This green sea turtle is tangled in a discarded plastic fishing net.

Mia Chairez, staff writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Our oceans are teeming with an abundance of beautiful plants and creatures, however, that life is under threat due to our undying quest for convenience. While plastic has made our lives easier in many respects, it is also decimating sea animal and plant populations by creating an increasingly toxic environment. Recently, a grotesque example of this turned up on an ocean shore.  Thirteen sperm whales were found on the beaches of Germany at the end of January. The whale’s stomach was filled with a large amount of engine covers and plastic bags. Ocean pollution needs to stop, not only for the preservation of sea life, but to ensure human survival as well. We can help by increasing our awareness and decreasing our contribution to plastic waste.

Whales are not the only species that suffer due to the plastic pollution. There are other sea mammals and sea birds that sustain injuries or die due to trash. In Hawaii, turtles were also found dead with excessive plastic inside their stomachs and intestines. Countless sea creatures are getting tangled in netting, fish lines, and other plastic fishing gear left behind by the fishing industry. The Laysan Albatross is just one of the seabird species affected by plastic waste. While skimming the surface of the ocean for food they gather plastic, as well as fish in their beaks. The birds often mistake plastic debris floating in the ocean for food which leads to them consuming it themselves and bringing it back for their chicks to eat.  When the birds eat too much plastic their stomachs become full of indigestible material and they can starve or die from digestive complications.

Though some people may not find a loss of animal life concerning, plastic in the oceans are also harmful to humans. The toxins in plastic waste is making ocean water unhealthy to swim in. As the toxicity increases in ocean life, it increases in our lives as well. We can’t eat fish caught in this pollution without potentially introducing dangerous levels of chemicals in our bodies. Fish populations are also in decline and though this decrease is partly attributed to over-fishing, microplastics are a rising concern. Microplastics result from the decomposition of larger pieces of plastic waste and fish eventually die from ingesting too much. This effects are food supply even further.

Even more concerning, scientists estimate that anywhere from 50 to 85 % of our oxygen comes from the ocean. Phytoplankton are the microscopic ocean plants responsible for taking in large amounts of carbon dioxides and creating oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Experts report it is difficult to tell exactly how much phytoplankton is in the ocean, but a variety of large scale studies conclude that these little oxygen producing plants are dying in significant numbers due to microplastic.

For those who doubt the scale of waste being dumped into the ocean, one very visible example remains hard to deny. Over the years, a vast amount of plastic waste gradually surfaced, gathered and formed an island. That island, commonly referred to as “The Pacific Garbage Patch” is now double the size of Texas. The patch primarily contains plastic bags, bottles and toys, products predominantly purchased and then discarded by individuals like you and me. In the future, scientist estimate the island will simply increase if we fail to address our plastic consumption. Currently, there is an additional island growing in the Atlantic Ocean and yet another in the Indian Ocean. Biologists have found these floating heaps of trash are harming both sea creatures and birds, as well as destroying the fishing industries that depend on those areas to sustain themselves.

There is a plethora of ways that we can clean up our oceans and make sure they stay clean. Of course, there should be stricter, universal laws passed to restrict the dumping of plastic into the oceans, but reducing our own personal waste is essential. When shopping, make sure you bring sturdy, reusable bags. Get used to carrying a reusable cup or bottle so that you don’t have to buy or throw away plastic ones. Stop buying bottled water and filter your own instead. Try to buy products in bulk or in boxes instead of plastic bottles. When you do buy plastic products or packages make sure you either reuse and recycle them. Remember that Fresno County does not recycle plastic bags so avoid them at all times or take them to the specialized plastic bag bins that some stores offer. Also remember to keep all recycling clean and dry. Excessive solid waste or residue usually ensures it will be thrown into a landfill despite the fact that you placed it in the bin.

This is the place we live; we need to take care of it. The oceans cover most of our planet and we cannot exist without them. Working to eliminate plastic from our daily lives undoubtedly requires some effort, but revitalizing the oceans’ ecosystems, our food supply and the world’s greatest source of oxygen is worth a little inconvenience.

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • The High Cost of Convenience

    Feature

    Why Do Teens Text and Drive?

  • The High Cost of Convenience

    Feature

    Rare World Series Moments

  • The High Cost of Convenience

    Feature

    Kylie Cosmetic Kyshadow

  • The High Cost of Convenience

    Feature

    Top 10 Richest Soccer Players

  • The High Cost of Convenience

    Feature

    A New Age of Heroes: 6 Comic Characters You Should Checkout

  • The High Cost of Convenience

    Feature

    Adam Ruins Everything: Teaching You One Horrible Truth at a Time

  • The High Cost of Convenience

    Feature

    Top 10 Most Deadly Sports

  • The High Cost of Convenience

    Feature

    Amazing Teens

  • The High Cost of Convenience

    Uncategorized

    Staff Writer

  • Uncategorized

    Staff Writer

The student news site of Central High School
The High Cost of Convenience