Effects of Water Pollution on Marine Life
One of the main problems in the world today is the issue of environmental pollution. It is rampant in all corners of the globe, from burning of gases that seriously poison the air, to the disposal of toxic chemicals into the oceans, humans, and animals are both at risk of life-threatening consequences if preventive measures are not in place to curb the menace.
In today's piece, we will concern ourselves with the effects of water pollution on marine life, and all we stand to lose if things remain the way they are.
Before we get into all the nasty details, let's first familiarize ourselves with what constitutes water pollution.
What is Water Pollution?
Also known as marine pollution, water pollution is used to refer to the contamination of our oceans, rivers, lakes, and all other small or large water bodies by particles, chemicals, and substances from agricultural, industrial, or domestic waste. It could also be used to refer to the spread of organisms that can make it difficult for aquatic animals to live in their natural environment.
The majority of materials that pollute the world's natural water sources are human-made and usually include fertilizers and chemicals from processing and manufacturing industries that get disposed of in the high sea. If left unattended, the pollution of oceans and other water bodies can lead to health problems for both man and animal, and let us not forget the environment and economy will also suffer too.
Effects of Water Pollution on Marine Life
Now that we know what constitutes water pollution, we can now take a look at some of the damages that can result from the continued pollution of oceans and seas by both domestic and industrial activities.
Marine pollution can harm both humans and animals in several ways, and they include
- Heavy metals from industrial activities can get transported to nearby rivers and lakes, which harm the fishes living there and, ultimately, the humans who consume the fish for food. Heavy metal poisoning can lead to congenital disabilities resulting in slow development and is also carcinogenic.
- The deposition of industrial waste from large manufacturing and processing industries can also result in the death of the inhabitants of an aquatic environment. The world needs its oceans and seas to be clean to support the healthy growth of fish and other edible sea creatures. Remember, we need our water bodies to be safe enough for fish to breed in since they are a rich source of protein and other nutrients we desperately need for survival.
- Contamination of the aquatic environment can make it difficult for light to pass through. When this is the case, photosynthesis can't take place, thereby disrupting the growth of micro-organisms and plant that contributes to the growth of freshwater fish.
- When there is a build-up of contaminants in the water, either as toxic chemicals or biological waste, it affects the amount of oxygen in the water, which makes it difficult for the inhabitants to breathe. It can also result in immune suppression and reproductive problems, which can spell doom for aquatic life.
- It is also worth mentioning that oil spills from ships are also one of the primary causes of pollution in the oceans and seas. Oil spills can remain for years without washing off, and since they are almost impossible to mop out, they can leave lasting damage to the aquatic animals in their habitat.
Aside from endangering the lives of aquatic animals, water pollution can also be harmful to the environment. And some of the ways pollution affect the marine environment includes
- The accumulation of sulfur in the water from acid rain can alter its pH, making it acidic and unfit for marine animals to live in.
- The build-up of organic particles in an aquatic environment can affect the availability of oxygen, making it difficult for the animals to respire, leading to suffocation and death of the inhabitants.
- Mining activities on the ocean, such as drilling for zinc, copper, gold, silver, and other minerals, can result in the deposits of these minerals in large quantities, which can be unfit for all the fishes in the water.
- Litters, in the form of dirt and debris, also contribute to the environmental pollution of marine habitats. It occurs when particles are blown away by the high wind from the land to the sea. These particles don't decay and thus remain in the water for a long time, causing numerous problems for the aquatic life. Firstly, fishes confuse these particles for food and ingest them, which can lead to health problems as well.
- There is also the issue of temperature changes in the water caused by carbon dioxide accumulation, which leads to the build-up of toxins, which affects aquatic life.
The continued pollution of our water bodies by mostly human activities can also have a devastating effect on the economy if nothing is done to curb the menace. Some of the economic impact of water pollution on marine life includes
- It is expensive to prevent or treat water pollution, especially in international waterways, where there is little to no maintenance policies in place. While water treatment processes such as chemical additives, and sand or biological features may prove to be effective, they cost a fortune to use in ocean treatment, which is why prevention is always better than cure.
- The decreasing number of fishes and other edible aquatic animals may also prove to be a significant economic problem if nothing is done in the next century to reduce marine pollution. Like we mentioned earlier, these aquatic animals are a rich source of protein, and we cannot say how terrible it will be for everyone if it becomes impossible for marine animals to find the right habitat for their continuous existence.
While it may seem like there is nothing much that we can do to stop pollution of our oceans and seas, we can start by ceasing the disposition of chemicals and foreign particles on the high sea. Then we can also take extra care to keep our rivers and local lakes free from debris as much as possible. It requires a collective effort to handle and should not be left for the government and relevant agencies to curb the menace.
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