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Most of the pollutants that reach the ocean floor originate from human activities.
Millions of tons of waste a year reach the oceans. But where do so many pollutants come from? Most of the time, the garbage that is thrown in the street ends up on the beaches, and the waves carry them out to sea with the rising waves. Some debris sinks, while others are eaten by some marine species, such as turtles, which mistake it for food.
Waste also accumulates in ocean gyres (areas where floating plastic waste is piled up) thus forming islands of garbage.
Where does the pollution come from?
Most of the pollutants that reach the ocean floor come from human activities, especially on the coasts. One of the biggest sources of pollution is non-point source pollution, which occurs when waste is washed off the ground by runoff from rainwater. That is, the garbage is dragged by the current of water that is spilled when it exceeds its natural or artificial channels.
Non-point source pollution can come from vehicles, farms, or livestock. Instead, pollution that comes from a single source, such as an oil spill, is known as point source pollution. Point source pollution often has a huge environmental impact, but fortunately occurs less frequently. Poor or defective wastewater treatment is also considered point source pollution.
Microplastics and marine debris
Another major pollution problem is microplastics and marine debris. Our oceans and waterways are full of debris, which can range from millimeter microplastics to fishing nets, tires, or boats.
Most marine species have been negatively affected by these wastes, which can kill animals when entangled or ingested by mistake. In addition, these wastes also pose a threat to human health because, according to a UN study, we end up ingesting these microplastics through fish and shellfish.
Likewise, a large part of this garbage originates on land and ends up in the seas due to poor waste management, rainwater or certain natural disasters such as tsunamis and hurricanes. Taking care of the oceans depends solely on us, as we are part of the problem and the solution at the same time.