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Ocean is essential for any living thing on the earth. It supports and provides us in a dynamic way. However, we are making the ocean toxic. As we continue to live a busy life, we don’t consider where the waste will go and the consequences we will face, nor the living things in the marine ecosystem. As a result, we have caused The Great Pacific Patch (GPGP).
Firstly, GPGP is two collections of waste trapped and carried by the ocean current. It is East and West Pacific Gyre located between Japanese and California. Not to mention, 20 percent of the plastic trash emanates from ships and the rest from the mainland. The marine ecosystem is becoming a graveyard to marine animals due to 1.15 to 2.41 million metric tons of plastics entering the ocean every year. The plastic that is discarded to the ocean increases the amount of microplastic in GPGP which is not biodegradable. Therefore, the ocean water is like a snow globe now.
Secondly, GPGP is causing a great challenge to ocean life. The main problem is the sheer amount of microplastic. As a matter of fact, plastic pollution kills about one million seabirds and hundreds of thousands of marine mammals per year. The sea animals death is caused by ingestion, strangulation, and slow starvation. For example, marine creatures like turtles and seabirds mistake the plastics and other waste for food. This leads to blockages in the digestive system and causes death. Furthermore, microplastic is blocking algae and plankton from the sunlight preventing photosynthesis. This prevents the marine animals from getting the nutrients they need. Consequently, marine animals eventually die from slow starvation. Equally important, on August 18th, 2018, a green sea turtle was found decomposed with a plastic net wrapped around its body. It is common and other animals are affected as well. For instance, seals, turtles, and whales are strangled, suffocated, or injured by nets drifted by the ocean current. It is called “ghost fishing”.
Thirdly, it is negatively affecting people. It threatens human health by the bioaccumulation. The toxic chemical which marine animals consume is brought up to the food chain. Not to mention, it also affects our economy. For example, the size of GPGP will thrice in size by 2050. In reality, we need to take action now before it gets any worse. However, it is estimated that to clean one percent of the plastic will take 67 ships one year. Additionally, it would cost about 13 billion USD which is far too expensive. All things considered, we need stay alert and start making changes before it gets any worse.
The first effort to clean the patch was made by Boyan Slat, an engineering student from the Netherlands. He founded an NGO called ‘the Ocean Cleanup” in 2013 to collect enough money for his research and the trial of his plan for collecting the plastic. As a result, he has recently launched the world’s first device to tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is believed that it can collect half of the GPGP within five years. The first thing we have to solve is now to cut the use of plastics and recycle them. Instead, we should use sustainable material and make an effort to decrease daily waste. Secondly, the majority of it comes from the fisheries nets, so we should eat less harvested fish. Lastly, take action. We can participate, support, or make a donation to NGOs; such as” the Ocean Cleanup” or “Support Algalita Marine Research Foundation”.
Our simple actions can have a big impact on the marine ecosystem eventually benefiting our environment. We should remind ourselves of the incident in 2015 where the straw stuck in the turtle’s nostril when we throw our waste.
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