Nonfiction in response to Life Below Water
February 2019

Trash in Oceans

By Karen Wu

In the recent superhero movie Aquaman, the main villain throws all the trash in the ocean back to land in a titanic tsunami wave. Unfortunately for the fictional beaches, just the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is double the size of Texas. Unfortunately for us, trash in the ocean has a very real impact.

Ocean animals may ingest plastic debris if they mistake it for food or if they indirectly consume it through their prey. The toxins in plastic can cause effects such as internal wounds, a blockage of the digestive system, and decreased mobility. Trash and debris also destroy habitats, causing a chain affect- animals that depend on those habitats die, and the animals that depend on those animals die too. Sea creatures can become tangled in plastic debris.

This isn’t unique to them- human swimmers and divers are at risk too. Furthermore, medical waste can transfer infections and/or disease. In 1988, New York and New Jersey beaches had to close because of the health risk, causing an estimated loss in the tourism industry of over $1 billion. Another harmful effect on the economy is “ghost fishing,” where freely drifting fishing equipment kill sea animals. This harms the fishing industry.

When we clean up trash, we lose money. Large debris can interfere with ocean vessels. By eating seafood, we indirectly consume toxin. Throwing garbage in the ocean is not only hurting our fellow animals, but ourselves too.

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