The ocean covers over 70 percent of the earth’s surface area, but only approximately five percent has been explored. There are over 230,000 known marine species, but scientists think this number could be anywhere from 750,000 to 1 million. Humans have subsisted on the ocean’s food supply for millions of years, and its currents create climatic conditions that make survival possible.
Yet the ocean has become a dumping ground for all types of waste. Sailors report debris fields that are so large, they reportedly can be seen from orbit. Marine biologists claim that a “dead zone” of oxygen-depleted water the size of New Jersey appears in the Gulf of Mexico each spring and summer. This zone, where marine life cannot be supported, is caused by chemical fertilizers that find their way back into the environment.
Nearly all of the ocean’s waste is the responsibility of humankind, and much of it is threatening marine habitats and the species that live there. Here are 10 things you can do to help protect marine life and its habitat.
10. Reduce Your Use of Plastics
OK, it’s impossible to avoid plastic altogether in today’s world, but it isn’t that hard to avoid single-use plastics such as plastic forks, spoons and straws, and use reusable items instead. You can also use your power as a consumer to purchase only products from manufacturers that demonstrate at least some degree of environmental consciousness, such as using biodegradable packaging and avoiding excessive packing materials. A disturbing amount of plastics find their way into the oceans, threaten the survival of several species, and destroy habitats. This video is just one example of the devastating effect that plastics are having on marine life.
9. Vote Wisely
Use your power at the voting booth and make your voice heard by voting for candidates who commit to environmental protections, including the oceans. Learn where candidates stand on environmental issues and whether they have a history of anti-environmental policy. Let your elected officials know that you expect them to cast their votes for proposals that help the environment and that they should oppose any efforts to roll back existing protections. Make it a habit to call, write, or email your mayor, governor, state legislators, congressmen, and other government officials. Let them know you are watching them, and that you expect them to represent your interests when it comes to protecting marine life.
8. Use Ocean-Friendly Products
Chances are you’ve never considered the environmental impact of the detergents and cleaning products you use. You may be surprised to learn how threatening and harmful some of these products are for marine life. The water used for laundry, washing dishes, and cleaning floors usually ends up down the drain and makes its way into the ocean, which can cause devastating effects to the marine habitat. Use more eco-friendly products such as white vinegar, baking soda, and cleaners that scored an “A” on the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, like such brands as Bon Ami, Green Shield, and Dr. Bronner’s.
Click ‘next’ to read on and learn more ways to help preserve aquatic life!
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