Aquatic Life Combats Harsh Realities of Human Actions

What are some of the biggest issues marine life face?

What are some of the biggest issues marine life face?

Remarkably, 94% of the Earth’s living species reside in the ocean. This aquatic wonderland is home to some of the most breathtaking beauties in the world, yet actions that kill these creatures continue to escalate. 

As Spring Break 2021 looms around the corner, millions of people are flocking to the beach to lather themselves in toxic chemicals; all to bask in the sun, sink their toes in warm sand, and splash around in salty water. 

While these visitors return home, the marine wildlife stay, and endure the harshities of human development, toxicity, and climate change. Don’t be mistaken, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the beachy landscapes. However, it isn’t right to blindly ignore the issues ocean life faces as a result of collective actions by companies, manufacturers, and consumers. 

This article will address some of the largest issues marine life are encountering including pollution, sunscreen chemicals, overexploitation of fishing resources, and oil drilling. 

One of the largest and most well-known predicaments is pollution and specifically plastic waste. This is such a frustrating problem, because people have known about the implications of littering for decades. Still, individuals and corporations contribute to the death of a million seabirds and thousands of marine mammals annually. 

When asked about why he believes people still refrain from altering their actions, Sanderson Sophomore, Dylan Hemedinger states, “It’s such a big issue—too big. For most people, especially in the U.S., it doesn’t affect our day-to-day lives. It’s difficult to visualize. Even though it’s a huge problem, people just can’t bring themselves to care.”

An easy first step into breaking down this dilemma is to shift to reusable options and the dissolvement of insistent plastic use. There are simple ways one can do this in their day-to-day life. For instance, one can use transparent glass containers for food storage, reusable grocery bags, cloth diapers, as well as interchangeable toothbrush and razor heads. 

On another note, the next time you purchase sunscreen, be sure to avoid buying products with Oxybenzone, Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-Benzylidene camphor, Octinoxate, and Octocrylene. 

Also be sure to abstain from using aerosols or spray-on-sunscreens. As the tide comes in, it will take these harmful chemicals back out to sea.

These kinds of skin protectants, for one are actually bad for humans, and secondly they can directly harm fish, they damage coral reefs, and ultimately lead to coral bleaching. 

Don’t fret–mineral sunscreens that use ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that are “non-nano” are okay, because they are less likely to be absorbed by ocean life. Another good sign to look out for on these products is if they say, “Protect Land + Sea Certification”. 

One of the key things to take away is: “Do your research and make informed choices. Support companies that are doing things well and not just greenwashing their products and services,” explicates AP Environmental Science Teacher, Amanda Herlacher.

It is also pertinent to be mindful about where you buy your seafood. The exploitation of fishing resources is dangerous to marine life, because when large quantities of fish are removed from their habitat, their reproductivity and maturity slows. This ultimately creates a severe imbalance in the food web. 

Whether it is seen or not, oceans are intricately interconnected. The population decline of fish affects other vulnerable species like turtles and corals. 

As a society, everyone tends to firstly blame large brands and corporations for their environmental impact. The thing is, people need to accept that they, as consumers, are a part of the problem. 

Herlacher states: “Consumers often want the most ‘bang for their buck’ and will usually, though not always, choose the cheapest products, which often are the most wasteful ones.”

By purchasing cheap farm raised and chemically fattened seafood, that are cultivated in horrible conditions–you are supporting those companies. If one were to opt for a ethically and environmentally sustainable brand that is careful of their printful behaviors, then those competitors would have to alter their practices to maintain their business.

Herlacher details that the website Seafood Watch is a great resource to use if someone is in search of finding the best options for purchasing sustainable seafood. 

It is still, however, paramount to hold corporations accountable. April 20th marks a deadly date. In 2010, the most voluminous and gigantic marine oil spill in U.S. history was BP’s Deep Horizon Oil Spill. 

This industrial disaster laid waste to and severely contaminated the damaged area in the Gulf of Mexico. More than 200 million gallons of oil were spilled and exposed marine mammals to a wide range of adverse health effects, including reproductive failure and organ damage. This caused the most lengthy and vast marine mammal unusual mortality rate ever recorded in the Gulf. 

The despairing fact is, this happens too often. According to data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there were 137 oil spills in 2018, which totals to about 11 per month. 

These accidental incidences are what they are, accidents. What about incidences where the act itself is intentional? 

Oil drilling is just one example. It leads to the destruction of habitats and the disruption of marine ecosystems. As previously mentioned, oil spills are not uncommon when companies enact the process of plummeting the ground and seafloor for petroleum reservoirs. 

Looking at the statistics and the damage done, it is quite discerning. There is still much that can be done! The animals and life that have gone extinct can’t be brought back, but it can be ensured that the risk of extinction for other species is mitigated. 

Methodologies for spreading knowledge have evolved with the advancement of technology and world-wide infrastructure. 

Hemedinger affirms, “Globalization has, obviously, made pollution and littering worse—but it has also offered a method to spread awareness. We don’t see the impact on our beaches, but we can see the impact on other beaches around the world.”

It is in our power, control, and responsibility to restore and revitalize Earth. Our oceans play a colossal role–more than that even–they are our lifeline. Cherishing and respecting aquatic nature is principal for the continuation of the human species and for future conservation. 

If you would like to learn more about the immediate things that YOU can do, be alert for the week-long campaign by Sanderson’s Environmental Awareness Club from April 19th to the 23rd.