What is beach litter and how does it contribute to ocean plastic pollution?

Not only is marine litter ugly, but it can also harm ocean ecosystems, wildlife, and humans. It can damage coral reefs and species that live in the background and become entangled or drowned. It can damage coral reefs and species that live on the bottom and entangle or drown marine fauna. Some marine animals ingest smaller plastic particles and drown or starve.

Medical waste (such as syringes), sharp objects, and large pieces of garbage can pose a direct threat to humans. The economic impact of marine litter is believed to be significant. Marine debris is garbage that ends up in oceans, seas, or other large bodies of water. This artificial waste enters the water in a variety of ways.

People often leave garbage on beaches or throw it into the water from ships or offshore installations, such as oil platforms. Sometimes, garbage reaches the ocean from land. This debris is carried by storm drains, canals, or rivers. The wind can even carry garbage from landfills and other areas into the water.

Storms and accidents at sea can cause ships to sink or lose cargo, types of debris Any type of garbage can reach the ocean, from glass bottles to aluminum cans and medical waste. However, the vast majority of marine debris is plastic. Plastic products can be very harmful to marine life. For example, loggerhead turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, their favorite food.

And many marine animals and birds have been strangled by the plastic rings used to link six packs of soda together. Plastics don't biodegrade quickly. Ironically, some new biodegradable plastics may not decay at all in the oceans. These products are designed to decay when heated in a landfill or compost pile.

Colder ocean temperatures prevent these products from actually degrading. Instead, like many other types of plastic, they simply break down into tiny particles called microplastics. Microplastics are pieces of waste between 0.3 and 5 millimeters (0.01 to 0.20 inches) thick, no thicker than a grain of rice. An example of microplastics are “knuckles”, the artificial raw material granules used in the manufacture of plastic products.

These small pieces of plastic can build up in the stomachs of marine animals and interfere with digestion. When marine animals ingest their knuckles, they may feel “full” even though they are not receiving nutrients. Animals are at risk of malnutrition and starvation. When floating on the surface of the ocean, knuckles and other small pieces of plastic can prevent the sun's rays from reaching plants and algae, which rely on the sun to create nutrients.

When these organisms are threatened, the entire marine food web can be disrupted. As plastics get smaller and smaller, they release chemicals. One of those chemicals may be bisphenol A (BPA). Bisphenol A may interfere with the reproductive systems of animals.

Fish are at particular risk when exposed to bisphenol A. Exposed fish produce fewer healthy offspring, and bisphenol A and other chemicals build up in fish bodies through a process called bioaccumulation. Plants or algae can absorb bisphenol A through water. A fish, already exposed to the chemical, ingests more bisphenol A when it eats the algae.

The main predators, such as sharks or dolphins, that eat fish, are the ones that accumulate most of the chemicals. A reduction in the fish population may affect human activity in the area. Fishing is shrinking, weakening the area's economy. Fish that are caught may have a large amount of toxins or other marine debris in their system as a result of bioaccumulation.

Some of these toxins, such as mercury or bisphenol A, can be harmful to people and put consumers at risk. Other types of marine debris that are harmful to marine life come from fishing gear. Discarded fishing lines and nets don't stop fishing once humans have used them. They continue to catch fish, along with marine mammals, turtles and birds.

The increase in the fragmentation of plastic waste in situ can lead to the production of microplastics and chemicals (Thompson et al. Microplastics also enter the oceans, from commercial activities (cleaning and cleaning with air jet), where they are used as “scrubbers” (Derraik, 2002; Thompson et al., 200). Of course, better marine litter prevention and ocean conservation begin with a better understanding of the root causes of ocean pollution. We can responsibly enjoy the benefits of plastics and, at the same time, properly dispose of or recycle used plastics.

Resin granules, precooked food containers and plastic bags are among some of the waste ingested by birds, marine mammals and sea turtles, which are particularly susceptible to floating plastic bags, since they mistake them for jellyfish (U. Through the Mission Blue program, National Geographic works with other organizations, such as Ocean Conservancy and Sea Web, to educate the public about threats to the oceans. .

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