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Abstract

This paper will discuss the effect of humans on the oceans and marine life that occupy 70 percent of the earth and maintain the balance in the environment. It will discuss ways that will mainly be about the change in the ocean which is negatively starting to affect marine life on a bigger scale. It also talks about the procedure our people have taken and should take to contribute to keeping the balance obtained.

Keywords: Ocean, water, pollution, marine animals, climate change.

Introduction

Marine life is the animals, plants, and other organisms that occupy the salt water of the ocean or sea. On a basic level, marine life is the main part of our environment that plays a huge role on planet earth. These organisms produce oxygen, shape our shores and protect them, and some even help in forming new land.

Marine life is much larger than we ought to think considering that our species occupy 10 percent of the earth. The oceans cover 70 percent of the earth and are the world’s largest ecosystem, oceans are among the most valuable natural resources. They protect and balance the weather, clean the air, help feed us, account for more than 97 percent of the water, and are home to 80 percent of the living organisms. Yet humans try wrecking this valuable source as foolishly as possible.

There are various ways to classify and investigate the inputs of pollution into the marine ecosystem. The inputs could be direct as directly throwing waste into the oceans, or indirectly, human’s way of living on earth is affecting the environment and creating a disturbance by polluting this will continue to affect the oceans. Earth is indeed created in a perfect way and life flows smoothly, any effect on the system may cause huge problems. We must not forget that if we lose the ocean we will lose our own lives. This is a battle of surviving or sinking.

Going Back to the Beginning

It is believed that comets and meteors containing water and gases that collided with Earth billions of years ago are the main contributors to creating the oceans and atmosphere. Our planet was bombarded by intense waves of meteorite bombardments which ended 3.9 billion years ago. 97 percent of earth’s water accumulated in ocean basins caused by the meteorite bombardments and the other about 3 percent formed thick ice sheets on what we now know as Greenland and Antarctica. A small fraction of what was left occurred in rivers, lakes, or mountain glaciers. [1]

As living organisms evolved and became more plentiful, they adjusted the composition of Earth’s atmosphere. For instance, photosynthesis by plants increased oxygen, making the evolution of animals possible.

Today, all living organisms are dependent on water. It is thought that life originated in the ocean, and today water makes up 60 to 70 percent of all living matter. We as humans are composed of two-thirds of water. Humans cannot live more than a week without consuming water. The birth of our ocean should be also known as the birth of an ocean and the start of life. When the earth was still a blob of lava about 4.5 billion years ago, steam came out from our earth, condensed, and started falling as rain. And with enough time, the ocean became what it is today. In Australia, stromatolites started developing in the ocean and they are the first living organisms known by scientists. [1] Anaerobic life was started through specific cells that, using what we know as the process of photosynthesis, produced oxygen. Oxygen became a crucial element in the development and survival of living organisms further on. More research shows that hydrothermal vents although providing incredibly impossible habitats proved to be collaborating with well-evolved living organisms such as bacteria, tube worms, and crabs. The role of oxygen is shown by explaining the main reasons for four of five mass extinctions when most living organisms became extinct due to insufficient and very low levels of oxygen in the oceans. Extinction is the fate of most living organisms, so how did few organisms survive the last major extinctions? The Nautilus is a creature that has survived some 500 million years. Is believed to have survived the last great extinction which was caused by a huge asteroid that struck the earth and evaporated the ocean’s waters and the living inhabitants of the ocean, however, the Nautilus went deep into the surface where it could survive that asteroid. [1]

State of Our Ocean

1. No Corner Left Clean:

In February 2008, an international team of scientists led by Dr. Benjamin Halpern of the NCEAS developed a system to explain the negative impact of humans on the oceans. Using a huge amount of statistics and data they combined 17 different human impacts on the oceans, including fishing, coastal development, pollution, and climate change.

They developed a map (below, courtesy of Ben Halpern/NCEAS) which shows that only 4 percent of our world’s oceans are untethered by human activity, global warming, and other pollutants that humans create. The other 96 percent is what we should refer to as sick it is possible that the oceans once were able to withhold our waste and neutralize it. But our impact is so huge that it is beyond being a possibility that the oceans can do right now. [2]

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2. Survey of life:

The irony is that we haven’t discovered all the species in the oceans and every year we discover new ones. The study shows that the oceans are so huge that we still can’t imagine how many creatures we still didn’t discover.

It is also important to watch how we have been trading with the oceans for the past half-century, as humans we fish millions of marine animals as a source of nutrition and give the ocean millions of tons of waste and trash.

3. The most endangered places:

Our ocean can be divided into four sections each has its own role and helps humans and marine life to develop. However, it is important to note each is very sensitive to change and is valuable in its own way.

i. Reefs:

Coral Reefs are underwater structures created by the skeletons of corals which are very sensitive to change in general, any change in the water temperature, pH level, or disease will damage the reefs and cause bleaching. As we speak we are witnessing a huge bleaching event happening in the oceans and spanning from Hawaii to the Indian Ocean. The fear is due to the increase in water temperatures, will result in the death of more than 12,000 square kilometers of coral this year.[3]

ii. Coasts:

We live, swim, and build on the coasts of the oceans and seas, humans love to see the ocean and live near it. However, that means humans try to get rid of waste by throwing most of it near the coasts, fishing is also done near the coast which over time causes a mass extinction of a certain type of marine animals that used to inhabit these coasts. Also, the increase in water level due to the melting of the ice caps causes the coasts to literally vanish. [2]

iii. Continental shelves:

The continental shelves are open to all kinds of human activity. They are the source of 80 percent of marine animals fished by humans. They are also the core of water pollution, habitat degradation (such as the loss of seagrass beds, corals, and mangrove swamps), overfishing, biodiversity loss, and climate change effects.[2]

iv. Open ocean

The open ocean is so wide and so remote that it is weird to imagine human activities having much effect on this ocean that is far away from the coastlines. Yet fishing has taken a huge toll on populations of large hunted species such as tuna, sharks, and billfish. Global warming is also beginning to take its toll with the slow rise of nutrients that is so vital to the vast mass of plankton that fills the ocean’s upper layers and provides the basis for all other life in the open ocean. [2]

The Impact of Humans

We do not recognize what happens in the deep ocean due to the things we do on our lands. We live our lives ignoring the problems we create for the environment, but it is a known fact everything runs in harmony, changing one thing will affect the other. There are several kinds of pollution, air pollution is caused by factories, car emissions, mass farming, and other activities we do that emit carbon dioxide, this causes global warming which is melting our planet’s ice caps, melting causes ocean salty water to become less concentrated and this slight decrease in saltiness is causing marine organisms to die. Air pollution also causes a rise in ocean levels which according to scientists in Greenland has increased by 23 centimeters, the rise in water levels decreases the rate at which the ocean can soak up carbon dioxide, oceans are like ventilators and any change in them slows the process down. [7] Water pollution, a major contributor to damaging the oceans, is when we throw trash and plastic into the rivers, the rivers carry all that to the oceans. Some countries also throw the trash into the ocean directly using cargo ships. Marine animals are dying at an increasing rate, people find whales, turtles, and fish washed up on our shores dead and when dissected the dead animals scientists are shocked by finding plastic filled inside them, they die not because of consuming plastic only, but because of the toxic pollutants that poison them.[11] Our oceans are contaminated and the damage is already done, but this isn’t everything we most talk about, sound pollution wasn’t considered a damaging pollutant until 2004 found by Christopher Clark who is the director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University in New York. ‘As our world is vision, their world is sound,’ he says. [4] Marine animals communicate and warn each other with sound. However, manmade sounds invade the ocean and block communication, if a truck was passing by and two humans try to talk to each other while standing apart a distance of 20 meters they won’t hear each other, this is an example to understand the effect of sound pollution on whales who communicate at distances of over 100 kilometers. Ships create sounds categorized as lethal sounds. [9]

Getting on the right track

What can humans do to fix this problem? People should start by cleaning the ocean although it will take a lot of effort and time to do that, it is crucial to also stop throwing trash into the ocean. This won’t be enough since ice caps have already started melting and the climate has already changed, According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Taking this step is a start to saving the planet, any minor step will be a major one in the future. marine life is and will always be an important resource that our lives depend on. Now people are creating organizations that are hoping to save the planet by saving the sea and ocean. The earth is a planet on the edge of no return humans need to stop for a moment and think of how to change their lifestyle. When talking about sound pollution humans have already started to solve the problem, many ships are now occupied with motors that don’t affect the marine life by spilling oil and creating loud noises, and communication methods previously used by humans under the sea have changed the frequency of transmission to a higher one that prevents blocking whales and other marine animals from communicating. Factories are banned to throw waste into rivers by governments but not all countries are following this initiative. The United Nations held an ocean conference in 2017 which sought to mobilize action for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources, participants included heads of State and Government, civil society representatives, business people, actors, academics, and scientists and ocean and marine life advocates from around 200 countries. Around 6,000 leaders gathered for the conference over the course of the week. Over 1,300 voluntary commitments have been made which UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo called ‘truly impressive’ and stated that they now comprise ‘an ocean solution registry’ via the public online platform. 44 percent of the commitments came from governments, 19 percent from NGOs, 9 percent from UN entities, and 6 percent from the private sector. The conference ended with the adoption by consensus of a 14-point Call for Action by the 193 UN member states in which they affirmed their ‘strong commitment to conserve and sustainably use our oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development. With this call, the Ocean Conference also sought to raise global awareness of ocean problems. [14],

In 2020 another Ocean Conference will be held by the UN to review these outcomes.

Reference list

  1. Lem, V. K. (2012, Jun 22). One ocean: Episode 1: Birth of an ocean. (the nature of things series)/One ocean: Episode 2: Footprints in the sand. (the nature of things series)/One ocean: Episode 3: Mysteries of the deep. (the nature of things series)/One ocean: Episode 4: The changing sea. (the nature of things series). CM: Canadian Review of Materials, 18, 1. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1023805845?accountid=158790
  2. State of Our Oceans | Ocean Leadership. (2016, June 29). Retrieved from https://oceanleadership.org/state-of-our-oceans/
  3. Mooney, C. (2015, Oct 09). Worldwide coral reef death underway; coral bleaching; dramatic loss blamed on global warming. Edmonton journals retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1720957384?accountid=158790
  4. Underwater Noise Pollution Harms Marine Life Publication info: Voice of America News /FIND; Washington, (Dec 15, 2008).
  5. Galloway, Gloria. Daily Townsman; Cranbrook, B.C. [Cranbrook, B.C]22 Feb 2001: 2.
  6. Osterlund, Peter. The Christian Science Monitor; Boston, Mass. [Boston, Mass]31 Aug 1983
  7. Science File; IN BRIEF; Warming Is Seen in Oceans’ Saltiness Publication info: Los Angeles Times; Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]20 Dec 2003: A.31.
  8. Ecology, Environment & Conservation ; Atlanta [Atlanta]03 May 2019: 260.
  9. Underwater Noise Pollution Harms Marine Life Publication info: Voice of America News /FIND; Washington, (Dec 15, 2008).
  10. Lockwood, Deirdre. Chemical & Engineering News; Washington Vol. 91, Iss. 49, (Dec 9, 2013): 8.
  11. Mooney, Chris. Edmonton Journal; Edmonton, Alta. [Edmonton, Alta]09 Oct 2015: N.3.
  12. Ecology, Environment & Conservation ; Atlanta [Atlanta]26 Dec 2014: 607.
  13. Allsopp, Michelle, Adam Walters, David Santillo, and Paul Johnston (2014), ‘Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans – a UNEP Report.
  14. ‘The Ocean Conference | 5–9 June 2017’. United Nations. Retrieved 6 June 2017.

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