Human Impacts on the Ocean and Ocean acidification

The oceans are constantly in a state of rapid decline due to human processes and intervention meaning the impacts we have on the oceans are varied and are starting to affect us and the natural ecosystems that reside there.

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Just one example of what makes its way across our oceans daily.

Processes that we undertake such as fishing, Shipping goods, burning fossil fuels, Drilling the sea floor, increasing the rate of climate change, disposal of rubbish and an increased number of vessels on the waters all contribute to different impacts below the water surface:

  • Over fishing causes population damage
  • Shipping goods allows for invasive species to appear via ballast water exchange
  • drilling the seafloor and an increase number of vessels poses an oil spill problem
  • The improper disposal of rubbish causes injury and death to different animals
  • Climate change and burning fossil fuels leads to habitat loss and ocean acidification consequently also causing coral bleaching

Of all of these impacts that we currently know about, Ocean acidification is a very prominent one. It has caused coral bleaching, loss of habitats, the inability for other calcifying species to build their skeletons or shells and other larger fish species to be unable to recognise threats and predators.

We as a race have managed to slowly increase the level of ocean acidification since the industrial revolution. It is hard to recognise as the change in the acidity of the oceans is so slight just 0.1 unit of pH so far, but the effects it has had on the ecosystems is a lot more severe. Ocean acidification is linked quite strongly to climate change as the main contributing factor for increasing this acidity is the burning of fossil fuels into the atmosphere.

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A dead section of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

By continuing to do this the excess CO2 that we are producing is being taken up into the worlds largest carbon sinks: The Oceans. This allows for correct the chemical reactions to take place and the acidity of that location to slightly alter causing catastrophic impacts.

 There are a number actions that we can take in our every day lives to help reduce this effect on the world’s oldest and most natural ecosystems; these actions can be as simple as using cars less, allowing for reduced emissions; switching to more ECO friendly processes and products and actively spreading the word of these drastic effects.

On a higher level, governments are working on reducing these effects via constantly updating resolutions for all industries and working in partnership with organisations around the world for example NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association).

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Useful links:

http://pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean+Acidification

https://www.mcsuk.org/what_we_do/What+we+do/What+we+do/MCSblog

https://marine-conservation.org/

References:

Government, A. (2012) Impacts of ocean acidification on the reef. Available at: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/managing-the-reef/threats-to-the-reef/climate-change/how-climate-change-can-affect-the-reef/ocean-acidification (Accessed: 12 February 2017).

IMO (International Maritime Organisation), 2017. International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). [Online] Available at: http://www.imo.org/en/about/conventions/listofconventions/pages/international-convention-for-the-prevention-of-pollution-from-ships-(marpol).aspx [Accessed 19 February 2017].

DeAmicis, S., 2017. Marine Biological Invasions OS106PP – Our Ocean Planet. Plymouth: Stacey DeAmicis.

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