Animals and plants depend on the ocean and its habitats to survive
The ocean may seem like a vast resource, but human activities are quickly changing this. Without careful management, our oceans can become polluted, overfished, and unhealthy.
Protecting the health and diversity of marine life is important for many reasons;
Marine life provides food for you and billions of other people around the world. Simply put: no fish means no fishing industry! That’s just one reason why sustainable fisheries management is important for most countries.
People enjoy recreational activities in or near the water all year round, from swimming in summer to ice fishing in winter. Protecting marine mammals helps maintain healthy ecosystems that support these activities, whether you enjoy them as a hobby or as a way to make a living.
By protecting small creatures like plankton, you’re also helping protect species such as whales and seabirds who eat these smaller creatures higher up the food chain.
People also depend on the health of the ocean
The ocean provides people with many important things:
- A place for recreational activities like swimming, surfing, and boating.
- Many different types of jobs, such as being a lifeguard, surfer, boat captain, or beach vendor.
- Food such as fish and crustaceans from the sea.
- Medicine from organisms in the ocean.
- Income from tourism (people who travel to visit the ocean).
- Oxygen for breathing is created by phytoplankton (algae) that live in the ocean.
The ocean provides important services to humans, including regulating climate and providing habitat for marine life.
The ocean plays a vital role in maintaining a habitable planet. It provides a habitat for marine animals, along with regulating the Earth’s climate and weather patterns. The ocean regulates our temperature, helps to purify water on Earth, and is important for biodiversity.
Protecting marine life ensures that these important functions continue long into the future.
The ocean is under threat
The ocean is under threat from overfishing, climate change, pollution, and the introduction of invasive species. If we don’t act now, our oceans could be in danger – and with them, the life that depends on them.
Overfishing has become one of the major threats to the oceans. Without fish and other marine species, we cannot have a healthy ocean. Losing these important plants and animals can upset the balance of marine life. This can lead to more jellyfish blooms, fewer coral reefs, and fewer fish for us to enjoy.
Our actions are changing the world around us—and that includes our oceans! Climate change is increasing the temperature as well as the acidity of the oceans. This makes it harder for coral reefs to grow; fish lose their habitat as well as their food sources; some species move away or die off; new diseases appear; coral bleaching events become more common; seagrass beds disappear; sea levels rise; shorelines erode…the list goes on!
Pollution pollutes drinking water, destroys habitats, kills wildlife (including humans) on land and in water—and even causes cancer! Pollution includes trash (especially plastic), oil spills, chemical waste (like pesticides), sewage waste (human or animal poop), littering (leaves cigarette butts or candy wrappers lying around)
Humans are changing the chemistry of the ocean through climate change and ocean acidification
When the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, it changes the chemistry of the water. Carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic, just like how carbonated soda is more acidic than still water. The ocean is 30 percent more acidic now than it was in preindustrial times and has reached levels not seen for at least 800,000 years!
This high level of acidity can impact marine animals that need to build shells or skeletons out of calcium carbonate (such as oysters and corals). It can also make it harder for fish to sense predators and prey, which could hurt their ability to survive. Some researchers worry that this change in ocean chemistry could affect certain species’ ability to reproduce, leading to a disruption in the food chain.
Acidification of seawater has bad effects
Acidification, in turn, affects marine habitats, such as coral reefs. As levels of CO2 rise, the oceans absorb some of it and become more acidic.
This lowers the pH level and harms coral reefs. Other factors affect coral bleaching too, like high temperatures and pollution. Coral bleaching is a major cause of coral reef deterioration—coral reefs are vital tourist attractions that boost the economy of tropical regions. They also provide a habitat for fish and other marine life.
Plastic pollution and marine life
Unfortunately, plastic pollution has become a significant threat to the marine life in all parts of the world.
Plastic is the most common type of marine debris because it’s cheap to produce and strong enough to withstand harsh conditions. This makes it an attractive material for many products which come in direct contact with marine life.
Plastic pollutes water bodies because some people don’t realize that plastics take hundreds of years to degrade. As a result, they throw them away instead of disposing or recycling them properly. The plastics end up getting into our waterways where they can be mistaken for food or ingested by marine life who mistake them for prey.
Humans are polluting the oceans
Many of the things we use and throw away every day end up in the ocean. Nearly 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. Here are some examples;
- Uncollected trash (especially plastic)
- Sewage (human waste and garbage)
- Industrial waste
- Oil spills
- Accidental or intentional dumping of garbage at sea
It is very important to protect marine life
You may wonder why we need to protect marine life. The reason is simple: if we don’t, it will be lost forever. According to the National Marine Mammal Foundation there are around 130 species of marine mammals in our oceans and seas. These include whales, dolphins, porpoises, and seals.
In addition to being cute and majestic creatures that are fun to watch, marine mammals play an important role in their ecosystems. Killer whales eat fish and sharks, which helps keep these populations under control. Dolphins eat the same types of organisms as some fish do (think shrimp or squid), so they help keep those populations stable too!
When you think about it this way, protecting these animals is just one part of protecting the entire ecosystem.