“Over 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities” (WWF, May 4, 2006, p.1). The rest comes from ocean-based activities. Different types of pollution enter the ocean each year. The major pollutants are oil, toxic materials, and debris. These materials not only pollute the ocean, but they also affect the marine life. Before the 1970s there were no laws to prevent and stop people from dumping pollutants into the ocean. Since the early 1970s many laws and regulations have been passed to help protect the ocean. People have set up organizations. These organizations go as far to have beach clean ups and offer several tips for people to do their homes that will help keep the ocean clean. Ocean pollution is something that could be easily avoidable if people just take time to dispose of trash properly.
Oil pollution is one of the sources of ocean pollution. According to New Internationalist magazine the annual average worldwide input of oil into the oceans was about 1,269,000 tons in 2003. This was a big difference compared to 3,250,000 tons in 1983. there are three types of oil that pollute the ocean. The first type of oil that pollutes the ocean is crude oil. It comes from natural seeps. Natural seeps are cracks in the ocean floor that leaks oil into the ocean. The oil seeps slowly into the ocean. Because it seeps slowly the marine life can adapt to it. In North America the Gulf of Mexico and off the southern shores of California is where the natural seeps are located.
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The second type of oil that pollutes the ocean is oil spills. Oil spills occur during the extraction and transporting of oil. “Oil spills cause huge damage to the marine environment-but in fact are only responsible for only around 12% of the oil entering the seas each year” (WWF, 2006, p.1). Extraction takes place near or on shores and this can cause risks for the coastal environment if there is a spill or leak. During extraction oil can get into the ocean through accidental spills, surface spills, and slow leaks from disposal of water with oil in it. There have been recent decreases in the amount of oil released into the ocean through extraction, but a minor spill in a coastal area could be major. During the transportation process the oil leaked into the ocean is not major unless there is a major oil spill. While during extraction the oil released into the ocean is in concentrated areas, but during transportation the spills can happen anywhere. When oil gets spilled in the ocean it only lasts weeks or months. The problem is when the oil gets into marshes or lagoons and mixes with the mud. It then becomes part of sediment on the bottom of these marshes and lagoons. Oil pollution can affect the marine life and its ecosystem. Oil spills threaten birdlife, fisheries, and marine life. “From experiments and field measurements, we know that certain types and concentrations of petroleum chemicals can harm marine life. Long-term effects of oil exposure can alter the physiological and ecology of populations of marine organisms, especially those found in sensitive habitats” (Farrington, n.d, p.3). When the source of pollution is stop or when the oil is removed from the water marine animal and plant life can return to normal. But Ocean Pollution 5
this can take months or even years depending how bad the environment was affected. The last and major source of oil pollution in the ocean each year is consumption. Consumption of oil is from vehicles, boats, non tank vessels, and run-off from land. Boats and non tank vessels leak the oil directly into the ocean. Most of the oil though comes from land run off. The everyday use of vehicles drips oil onto the ground which goes to the ocean through run off. From 30 to 50 years people disposed of oil from cars down the drain which would end up in the ocean. There have been laws and regulations passed since then but cars still leak oil when...
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