Trash pollution leads to depletion of oxygen in the water, this often happens after oils spill when there is increased methane gas in the water.
Methane causes chains of exothermic reactions that suck out the water oxygen levels in water. The lack of oxygen drives away marine life such as Crabs, Turtles and Sharks and they move closer to shore causing a threat to human life. Marine biologists have recorded such occurrences following the BP-Shell oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico that created huge dead zones in the ocean leading to increasing Shark presence off the coast of Alabama.
Increase in bio-degradable waste in the ocean also has a reverse effect on oxygen depletion. Microorganisms present in the ocean feed on the bio-degradable trash and thus increased trash deposits amount to growth of microorganism populations in the ocean that consequently take up most of the oxygen in the water (Nellemann, Hain & Alder, 43). Reduced oxygen levels lead to deaths of aerobic water microorganisms and an increase in populations of harmful anaerobic microorganisms that produce Sulfide and Ammonia in the water. Both Sulfide and Ammonia are toxic and harmful to marine life and human life.
Toxic waste in water directly injures fish and indirectly has adverse health effects on humans who feed on fish. Bio-magnification defines such a process whereby humans who are at the top of the food chain are more likely to suffer devastating consequences from the presence of toxic waste in the water. Toxic waste consumed by fish such as radioactive material and Mercury have adverse effects on humans such as gene-mutations, birth defects and food poisoning (Parker & Menzel, 37).
Consuming contaminated meat from fish exposes humans to life-threatening health problems that continue to spread with increased trash deposits in oceans. Toxic trash is also retained in marine mammals’ blubbers which prolongs the duration of exposure to toxic material. Sentinel species such as Harbor Seals that don’t migrate contribute to prolonged exposure to toxic material since the toxins are absorbed by their thick layers of blubber and the seals remain in the same waters for a lifetime. This exposes other marine life such as Dolphins to toxic contaminants; Dolphins feed on the Harbor Seals and ingest the contaminants resulting in generational exposure to debilitating effects of the contaminants (Sareer, 14). Mothers pass down the contaminants to offspring through breast milk and this creates a population of contaminated Dolphins. In regions such as Japan, authorities are controlling the fishing of Dolphins for meat after detecting high levels of Mercury in the meat and other toxins such as pesticides that have been determined to cause low sperm count among men who regularly consume the Dolphin meat.
Some microbes thrive on plastic surfaces and we expose sea life to such microbes when plastic get to the ocean. Some of the plastisphere thriving microbes are harmful to Fish and Coral Reef which is detrimental because plastic is non-biodegradable and so the microbes on plastic deposited in oceans have prolonged life-spans. Scientists are studying some strings of plastisphere thriving microbes since some have been found to consume plastic. This could lead to a potential breakthrough of discovering microorganisms that can break down plastic which will lead to the development of ways to for plastic to interact with the environment.
Populations of sea mammals and seabirds are most affected by trash. Marine biologists have indicated that the population the various species of Sea Turtles have fallen below 50% due to trash and illegal fishing activities (Baumgartner, Iver, Duedall & Kester, 19). Sea mammals’ populations are also reducing due to deaths associated with ingesting plastic material, such deaths resulting from digestive disorders and intestinal injuries because of the digestive system’s inability to digest plastic. Sea Turtles, for instance, consume huge chunks of plastic garbage waste resulting in the development of ulceration complications and blocking of the gut, both leading to death. This has adverse effects on reproduction because as current populations reduce, active reproduction rates decrease as well leading to a threat of extinction (Baumann, 42). Seabirds often get trapped in plastic debris and die while looking for food, consumption of plastic material also injures their digestives systems and hinders their flying leading to death due to lack of food. Seabirds are mostly attracted by the colorful plastic debris confusing them for food and some end up suffocating under the heaps of plastic debris due to lack of oxygen. Illegal fishermen dispose of plastic nets in water that consequently trap sea mammals such as sea turtles, these are referred to as “ghost nets” which limit the movement of the turtles within the net and they consequently die from entanglement and lack of access to food.