By: Meaghan Todd
December 10th 2010
Have you ever been to the beach? I have and swimming in the ocean is one of my favourite things to do when I go on vacation! You wouldn’t want someone to come into your house and throw their cigarette butts or their plastic drink container on your kitchen floor when they’re done would you? I know I wouldn’t. Littering in the ocean does not magically get rid of your garbage; the marine wildlife has to deal with it in their homes. Roughly 75% of our earth is covered with water (IDRC 2010). Many people think that when you dump trash into the ocean that nature will biodegrade. It can take up to hundreds of years for this trash to fully decompose. People need to take into mind that the tiniest piece of plastic can get trapped around animal’s necks, dumping garbage into the ocean can severely damage coral reefs which is home to many marine wildlife , and that red-tides can cause medical complications to animals and people.
Our oceans are polluted with many types of trash, but one that really stands out is the amount of plastic that infects our oceans. Plastic pollution in our ocean strangles the food chain, and marine wildlife like dolphins, fish, and sea turtles have been found with plastic six-pack rings around their necks. (Figure 1.1) Microscopic pieces of plastic are drifting like fish food throughout the water, mimicking plankton which is a food supply of most aquatic life (McLaughlin 2008). A very shocking stat I found was that after a quick calculation that estimated the debris at half a pound for every hundred square meters of sea surface, then multiplied by the circular area defined by our roughly thousand-mile course through the gyre, the weight of the debris was about 3 million tons (Moore 2003). (Figure 1.2) Unlike most waste trashed into the ocean, most plastics do not biodegrade. Instead they "photodegrade," a process where sunlight breaks...