There is a ripple effect taking place in our oceans. The largest source originates from pollution as a result of runoff coming from an array of sources.
A recent study, conducted by J.L Lavers, reported about the notable plastic accumulation on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in Australia. The findings reported by Lavers was shocking as the islands were covered in 414 million pieces of plastic. The number of surface debris was 70.73 kg. The main contributors endowed was single-use plastic, consisting of 25% of the findings and 60% came from microplastics. A single-use plastic range from straws to grocery bags. Whereas microplastics can come from beauty products such as soaps and lotions. Additionally, microplastics are extremely hazardous to marine life due to the petite debris that continually breaks into smaller pieces. Plastic is invading the ocean at an alarming rate, further lingering for an average of 20 years before decomposing.
The increase in plastics is making the oceans unhabitual for wildlife. The microplastics that float in the water are easy to consume thus serving as choking hazards and traps, immobilizing the creature. A report by National Geographic stated that 700 species of marine life have eaten or become trapped in plastic. Furthermore, there has been ample occurrences of marine life deaths. In the Philippines, a whale died due to consuming 88 pounds of plastic inside its body. Another accident consisted of a whale dying in Thailand which had ingested 18 pounds of plastic in its body.
However, the study conducted by Lavers illustrates the seriousness of the issue. Cocos Islands was isolated from human activity. Previously noted runoff is one of the main contributors to the problem another prominent reason is due to the lack of waste management. When a management system is not in place, it often ends up in our oceans.
These studies remind the human consciousness of the ripple effect that is consuming our oceans. As long as pollution continues to pile up, the marine foundation will begin to disintegrate and wildlife will face continue daily stressors in an inhabitable environment. This sad reality is far from a sustainable solution, yet social movements such as the 5-minute beach clean up are contributing to the overall health of our oceans.
Lavers, J. L., Dicks, L., Dicks, M. R., & Finger, A. (2019, May 16). Significant Plastic Accumulation on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Australia. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-43375-4
Ocean Pollution: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2018, June 28). Retrieved from
Pierre-louis, K. (2019, May 16). How Our Toothbrushes Are Littering Paradise. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/16/climate/plastic-pollution-beaches.html
Article by: Alexis Takagi