Our planet depends on the oceans for many things. Coastal people make their living off marine life and tourism. Thousands of species live in the ocean. Thousands more depend on the oceans as part of their life cycle. Scientists are discovering the vast impact of climate change and pollution on our oceans. Here are some things to consider about the challenges our oceans face.
Imagine the ocean as an aquarium inside your home. If you were to turn up the temperature of the water each month, over time, it would kill out some of the fish and organisms in your tank. The ocean may move much slower, only changing about 0.13C each year over the past 100 years, but this is impacting marine life. The oceans absorb much of the heat from greenhouse gases that can’t escape. As more gases get put into the atmosphere each year, the ocean is becoming more acidic and de-oxygenated.
Benefits of Coral Reef Ecosystems
Coral reef ecosystems are the ocean’s equivalent of a tropical rain forest. What is a coral reef ecosystem? It’s made of up different types of corals, sponges, crustaceans, fish and more. A coral reef harbors fish who need to hide to avoid becoming prey. The coral offers protection to many species who take shelter in the reef. Coral reefs provide the resources for new medications. Humans enjoy snorkeling and diving around coral reefs, fueling tourism and jobs.
Coral Reefs Are Threatened by Climate Change
Coral reefs, especially those in shallow waters, are vulnerable to many threats. Climate change is changing the temperature of the water, which can kill off algae and other organisms that are vital to the coral reef’s ecosystem. Water quality is a huge problem for coral reefs. Stormwater runoff affects the quality of ocean water. Humans put pollutants and chemicals into the ocean, changing the chemical composition of the ocean.
Other Threats to the Ocean’s Biodiversity
Climate change is just one way that affects ocean wildlife. Humans have over-fished many species, which impacts the ecosystem of the ocean. Unregulated or illegal fishing occurs in many places around the world. Choosing sustainable seafood when you’re eating at a restaurant or at home can help, but there is a lot of work left to do.
Single-use plastics and litter on the beach cause significant damage to ocean life. These products can impact water quality as they break down. Products that don’t decay over time impact ocean life, too. Animals try to eat straws or other objects. They can get tangled up in debris.
Depleted fish populations impact the economy. Tourism drives many communities. Coastal towns often rely on fishing to support their residents. As it becomes harder to fish, companies either keep more boats on the water, which adds to the ocean threats, or they deny their employees a living wage.There is a lot that people can do to protect the ocean, but it will take a community effort around the globe. Small changes make a difference. Learn more about our oceans and how they are impacted by climate change and humans with an eco friendly sailing tour.