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Causes and consequences of pollution of the seas and oceans

In recent years, concepts such as pollution, habitat destruction or loss of biodiversity, have become more common in our everyday language. The point is that whenever it is talked about, it is mainly aimed at terrestrial areas, since its devastation and degradation are more visible to the human eye. But practically we never talk about the waste and toxic substances that are dumped into our waters every day, thus producing the pollution of the seas and oceans that seriously affects the natural environment and our resources.

We are not aware of the quantity and variety of waste that is thrown into the sea, which has been turning, for centuries, into a deep dump, which is ignored because the environmental impact that it has cannot be seen with the naked eye. cause. In other words, the pollution of the seabed remains in the background, simply because it cannot be seen. For this reason, in this AgroCorrn article we will discuss the causes and consequences of the pollution of the seas and oceans .

You may also be interested in: How to avoid pollution of the seas and oceans
  1. What is marine and ocean pollution
  2. Causes of pollution of the seas and oceans
  3. Consequences of pollution of the seas and oceans
  4. Solutions for sea and ocean pollution

What is marine and ocean pollution

The pollution of the seas and oceans is the direct or indirect introduction of harmful pollutants in the marine environment , from the coast to the open sea. Herbicides , pesticides, fertilizers, detergents, chemicals, hydrocarbons, plastics and wastewater, among others, are usually thrown in an excessive way .

These remains cause a great environmental impact that not only damages the biodiversity of the oceans , that is, marine living beings, and the resources we obtain from these waters, but also endangers human health. This risk is mainly due to the fact that many of the wastes that are dumped into the sea end up being direct or indirect food for many marine species that we consume, so we could end up ingesting remains of the substances that we ourselves have discarded.

The pollution of the sea, no matter how recent it may seem, is the result of many years of neglect with the environment, since in Roman times waste was already dumped into the sea. It has long been believed that the large amount of water that flowed in the seas and oceans could end up diluting all the mismanaged debris produced by humans throughout our existence. The problem is that in the last three centuries, due to great industrial and technological development, waste has increased brutally and has accelerated the process of degradation and pollution of the seabed.

There has come a time when our seas and oceans can no longer retain this pollution, so symptoms are appearing that if not managed, will be irreversible and really very harmful to us and the living beings that surround us.

Causes of pollution of the seas and oceans

Why is the sea polluted? Due to the various causes of this problem, there are many types of pollution in the ocean and sea. However, we can summarize that all the causes of sea pollution are caused by human activity and the mismanagement of the resources we have. As a result, every day we perceive more damage and deaths of living beings in a natural environment on which we depend in many ways. The main causes of marine pollution are as follows.

Chemical contamination

The toxic substances that are thrown into the seas, oceans and rivers from industrial activities are one of the most important causes of pollution of the seas and oceans. Some of these products, which come from industrial activity and are traces of chemical products, such as asbestos, lead, mercury or sulfides, directly affect marine life, since they are substances that are harmful to health. of living beings, both aquatic and terrestrial. These substances, when they come into contact with water, dissolve and cause reactions that may well cause nutrient peaks and an increase in water temperature.

There are also products such as soaps and detergents, which, being difficult to eliminate, also easily reach our coasts, and cause the death of their organisms or an imbalance of the marine ecosystem. Here we talk more about Chemical Pollution: what it is, causes and consequences .

sewage water

Wastewater is waste that is generated mainly in our homes, businesses and industries. These waters, before being thrown into other channels that will lead to the sea or ocean, are treated through physical, chemical and biological processes, to eliminate the main pollutants.

The problem is that these wastewater treatments are usually not enough for all the waste that should be treated, such as the remains of medication ingested by the population. These drugs, some as common as anti-inflammatories, remain in the wastewater, and once it comes into contact with seas or oceans, it reaches the marine living beings that inhabit that area, and can create modifications in your body.

Agricultural activity and stormwater

The waters that circulate through agricultural fields normally have certain products such as herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers that end up leaking into rivers or underground waters. These waters, also called rainwater, carry with them all these components that once flow into the sea cause physiological changes in organisms such as fish and mammals.

Pollution by plastics and microplastics

Among the data on pollution of the seas that have been collected in recent decades for various scientific studies, it has been found that non-degradable solid waste or waste that is thrown into the sea, mainly plastics and packaging not properly recycled, affect a very worrying and direct way the life of marine organisms, mainly mammals, birds and fish. This is because they mistake the remains for food or are trapped in the sea of ​​plastic that is beginning to form. It is estimated that, at this rate, by 2050 there will be more plastics in the sea than fish.

Microplastics are highly toxic particles less than five millimeters in diameter that come mainly from many beauty products such as body and facial scrubs, personal hygiene or toothpastes. Due to their small size, these particles are difficult to extract and pollute the marine environment, unbalancing its ecosystem. Countries like the United Kingdom, have already taken action on these remains, and have banned the sale of any product that contains them.

Here you can learn much more about Plastic Pollution: causes, consequences and solutions .

Fuel spills

This type of spillage is normally caused by boats, sailboats, boats and other types of aquatic vehicles. Spills on a larger scale are usually accidental, and even if they are located in a certain point of the sea or ocean, the fuel spreads like oil and damages all living beings that live or hunt near the surface of the water. For example, oil spills as you can see in this other article about 7 natural disasters caused by man .

Sónars, radars and oil installations

These activities mainly damage the most acoustically sensitive marine organisms, since some of the sound waves that are emitted confuse mammals such as whales, killer whales or dolphins, which communicate, reproduce and migrate using ultrasound. You can check this other AgroCorrn article on Noise pollution affects fish .

Climate change

This concept that is heard so much lately, means that the global climate of the planet is changing due to the action of man.

Even though it is a factor that does not directly pollute the water like the aforementioned pollutants, we can say that it pollutes the temperature of the water or that it is a thermal pollutant factor, which turns out to be a further aggravation of the situation our seas and oceans are experiencing. This is mainly due to the fact that climate change is producing a significant and alarming increase in water temperatures, in addition to acidifying the oceans.

Consequences of pollution of the seas and oceans

Next, the main consequences of sea pollution or marine pollution will be named, but it must be taken into account that there are other factors that also aggravate them, such as fishing exploitation.

Biodiversity loss

All the causes of pollution of the seas and oceans mentioned above affect the loss of biodiversity , in this case we are talking about aquatic species that live in our seas and oceans, which is why it turns out to be the main and most serious effect of marine pollution. . Many of these species are very important, either because they are great predators, or because they have a key role in the ecological system of the area, such as sea otters.


Depending on the type of substance thrown into the water, especially from industrial and agricultural activities, there may be large peaks of nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates that will cause uncontrolled growth of algae and bacteria colonies, leading to eutrophication of the waters. . This process implies that, due to the great abundance of plant matter, all the oxygen in the water is consumed and the light coming from the surface is blocked, thus preventing any organism that depends on oxygen or light to grow.

Large masses of plastics

This situation occurs due to ocean gyrations that cause discarded plastic to accumulate on the surface. Signs of this process can already be seen, such as the great sea of ​​plastic that has formed in the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and California, and that currently reaches an area equivalent to France, Germany and Spain together. It is an area with 10 kilograms of plastic per kilometer, with a total weight of more than 80,000 tons.

In addition, there are more cases like this around the world, such as the recent great patch of garbage in the Pacific, known as the plastic island , discovered in the North Atlantic in 2010.

Decrease in oxygen and acidification of the waters

Increases in water temperature cause a decrease in available oxygen in the marine environment. A very visible example of this process is that of coral reefs, which are dying faster every day, leaving a large number of species without habitat.

In addition, there is another problem caused by human activities, caused by the excess carbon dioxide (CO2) that we emit. This process is called ocean acidification , and it is a change in the pH of the water that is directly linked to the excessive absorption of CO2.

Death and physiological changes in aquatic organisms

Sewage and rainwater are the main cause of death or physiological alteration of marine living beings such as fish. This is due to the fact that products such as herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and even the remains of anti-inflammatory drugs (they are not treated in treatment plants), cause alterations in the endocrine system, in the liver, even in the reproductive system of fish. and mammals.

The degradation that we are causing to our seas and oceans will bring us serious problems and even worse consequences of the pollution of the seas and oceans from which we are already suffering. We must react and begin to act in accordance with the respect that our natural environment deserves.

Solutions for sea and ocean pollution

Among the possible solutions for marine pollution there are several things that we can do at the individual level and at the institutional level.

  • There are scientists working on the best ways to clean the seas and oceans. An example of this is The Ocean Cleanup project. Find out here How The Ocean Cleanup works .
  • Laws against marine pollution at all levels must be more restrictive and firm in all countries.
  • On a personal level, you can collaborate financially or as a volunteer with associations in charge of improving marine ecosystems and cleaning the ocean’s garbage.
  • You can also make sure to produce as little waste as possible and to reuse and recycle it.
  • Collaborate by spreading information on marine pollution to facilitate environmental education and encourage both adults and children to pollute less and less and help reduce this environmental problem.

Now that you have known all this about sea ​​and ocean pollution , we recommend that you expand this information with these other articles about How to avoid pollution of the seas and oceans and Solutions to water pollution . Also, below you can see a video from our YouTube channel about the causes and consequences of marine pollution.

If you want to read more articles similar to Causes and consequences of pollution of the seas and oceans , we recommend that you enter our Pollution category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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