Ocean Pollution

Ocean or marine pollution has increased over the years which are due to a heavy reliance on plastics which are then discarded in the ocean after use.

Rubbish (or garbage) has always been dumped into the oceans since human beings started living on or near to the sea. The composition of this floating garbage has changed during this time with plastic becoming the latest threat to marine and plant life.

Types of ocean pollution

The most common types of items to appear in the ocean are:

  • Chemical waste
  • Agricultural waste, e.g. runoff
  • Household waste
  • Sewage spills
  • Industrial waste
  • Windblown pollution

Chemical waste

This refers to waste materials as by-products from factories, laboratories as well as those discarded from households, for example solvents. 

Chemical waste is classed as corrosive, inflammable, toxic or explosive.

Agricultural waste

This is largely based upon 'runoff': this is the name given to excess water which can pick up contaminated materials as it travels along the ground.

Runoff occurs from not only agricultural locations but urban areas such as those where construction is taking place. This results in the passage of excess water which contains substances such as carbon, nitrogen and minerals. 

A major problem with runoff is that it triggers increased growth of algae and plankton in coastal regions which impacts upon the conditions in these places. Excessive growth of these plants also means increased oxygen consumption which is potentially fatal for other plants and animals. This is due to a lack of sufficient oxygen.

Household waste

This includes plastics and other non-biodegradable materials. It refers to the everyday items people buy such as food products which are often wrapped in plastic as well as cans, packets and cartons.

Sewage spills

This includes the contents from sewage treatment plants, drains and manholes.

Industrial waste

This describes waste products from factories, mines and other similar industries. The majority of this waste is classed as non-toxic but there are others such as toxic waste which is harmful to animals and humans.

Windblown pollution

This refers to pollutants, often from landfill sites, which are blown by winds to various locations around the world. They are driven into the oceans which results in them being washed up on shorelines where they can causes a great deal of damage.

Other types of windblown debris include sand from the Sahara and dust particles as a result of severe droughts in developing parts of the world.

The majority of these pollutants are land based. Once they enter an ecosystem they pass through the food chain which increases the risk of diseases or even deformities. These are potentially harmful to both the food chain and human beings.

Marine pollution and Hawaii

Concerns have been raised about the dangers of pollution to the waters surrounding Hawaii and neighbouring islands. As a result of this groups and organisations have been set up to tackle the problem of ocean pollution. This includes raising awareness of the harm caused by various pollutants as well as an emphasis on ocean safety and protection.