Over 1 million marine animals including mammals, fish, sharks, and turtles are killed each year due to a substance debris in the ocean – plastic. Nowadays, plastics are the biggest man-made pollutants in the marine environment. More than 220 million tons of plastic are produced each year, and it is estimated that there are 100 million tons of plastic in our oceans. The building up for plastics in the sea is a process, with plastic ‘island’s gaining size everyday.
The plastics in the urban coast wash out to sea, and are weathered and eroded into very small fragments, known as micro-plastic. The starving marine organisms mistake the plastic bag balloons with water, and micro-plastics as squid or other prey. After eating, the inflammation of the abdominal tissues caused by the presence of nearly 30 kgs of indigestible plastic leads these creatures to their death.
It does not affect only sea creatures. It also harms other organisms that don’t live in the sea. Estimated more than a million seabirds, as well as more than 100,000 sea mammals die each year as a result of plastic debris clogging their digestive tracts. Fish and other marine life eat micro-plastics which in turn can find their way into the human food chain. The water we drink could be affected. In 2017, there was the detection of micro-plastics in 3 of 24 water purification plants in South Korea.
These problems are caused by humans, so only humans can, and should fix it. We should use plastics as little as possible. At an individual level, we can try to recycle all the plastics that we use and, participate in beach or community clean-up groups. Remember, the most important thing is our effort to preserve our environment.