How Humans Affect The Marine Ecosystem

by Lucy Partridge

Oceans and the biodiversity

The Marine life Ecosystem, a diverse underwater world, is still being explored today with as little as only 20% having been explored, despite it making up a whopping 71% of the Earth’s surface [1]. Marine life is one of colourful nature and many mysteries to be solved. However with more and more garbage and trash being thrown in the oceans and large bodies of water, this might not be possible to witness. Our waste products enter the ecosystem through many different means, and through years of waste products being dumped, they can accumulate harmful levels for the environment. 

North Pacific Subtropical Gyre within a Gyre

In the North Pacific Ocean, between Japan, and the two U.S states of Hawaii and California, lies the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone. This Convergence Zone is made up of different ocean currents, also known as a gyre. Although this can also be known to refer to collections of plastic in the oceans found in high concentrations [2]. In this Subtropical Gyre, a Garbage Patch can be found, which covers an estimated 1.6 million square kilometres, which is twice the size of America’s second largest state Texas [3]. With an area this size, the amount of accumulated human waste products would need to be substantial and increasing each day. This garbage patch is the largest from five offshore patches. The OceanClean Up had estimated that a total of `1.8 trillion` and a weight of `80,000 tonnes` [3]. This patch is mainly made up of small micro plastics, which were once larger pieces and have since been broken down by the waves and sun [4]. 

The shocking future 

The damage caused to Marine life through our own faults could be devastating in years to come. By continuously littering, not reusing plastic bags, spilling oil in the oceans, all affect marine life considerably. Loggerhead Turtles, whose diet consists of jellyfish and plankton, mistake the plastic bags for the floating jellies they come across. Seals and other large marine animals are becoming trapped in abandoned fishing nets, which results in the name ghost fishing. Ghost fishing is where abandoned fishing equipment, such as nets and hooks, are still continuing to do their job, despite not being used by a human [5]. 
By 2050 the World Wildlife Fund states that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish [6].  However a majority of the marine debris will sink to the ocean floor. Destroying coral reefs and being ingested by the marine life living at the bottom of the shore. The plastic in our oceans and especially in the North Pacific Garbage patch, can be linked back to around 1970’s [3]. Decades of plastic have built upon and in our oceans. 

How we can help

To prevent a future with the biodiversity of marine life being almost extinct, as a human race we need to reduce the amount of trash, and non-biodegradable items we use daily.  Countries in Europe have started to reign in the use of plastic bags, and the supermarkets like those in the United Kingdom, such as Tesco, have introduced a fee for using the plastic bags [7]. However, we can start early, by starting to help organisations to clean up our oceans with either donating, raising money or even volunteering to help do good. You can find more out over at to view organisations cleaning and saving our oceans.

[1]Ocean | National Geographic Society Accessed on 28th July. 2022
[2]What is a gyre? Accessed on 28th July. 2022
[3]The Great Pacific Garbage Patch • The Ocean Cleanup Accessed on 28th July. 2022
[4]*1ny7kub*_ga*NTg4NjQ4MjQyLjE2NTg4Njg3MDU.*_ga_JRRKGYJRKE*MTY1OTA0NDI0Ny40LjEuMTY1OTA0NzcwNS4w Accessed on 28th July. 202
[5]What is ghost fishing? Accessed on 29th July. 20229
[6]Will there be more plastic than fish in the sea? | WWF Accessed on 29th July. 2022
[7] Plastic Oceans – Future Agenda  Accessed on 29th July. 2022

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