Is the Pandemic a Blessing in Disguise for the Oceans?

Is the Pandemic a Blessing in Disguise for the Oceans?

Nia Goulishev and Amelia Carr-Tijerina

Have you ever walked down by the beach or ocean, looked down, and seen all the trash lying on the shore? For the past few years, we have had so much pollution in our oceans and many animals have died. Sea creatures can choke on plastic or empty chip bags, soda cans, and so much more, not only injuring them but killing them as well.

Every year more than one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by pollution. The five things that are polluting our oceans the most are cigarettes, food wrappers, beverage bottles, plastic bags, caps, and lids. In the 2012 International Coastal Cleanup, there were a total of 2,117,932 cigarettes found! Birds and animals eat them thinking they are food and end up consuming all the harmful things included within. A report from May 13, 2020, by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), stated that “the temporary shutdown of activities, as well as reduced human mobility and resource demands due to the COVID-19 pandemic, may provide marine environments the much-needed breathing space for them to recover.” This quote was in Dr. Palitha’s article “COVID-19 Pandemic Provides Opportunity to Revive the Oceans”. It demonstrates how before the pandemic the ocean was being harshly polluted, although now, on the upside, because of quarantine, things have worked out for the oceans. 

Luckily, due to COVID-19, fewer people go out to parties, have large events, hang out in large groups, and go to beaches as much, meaning the trash does not pour into the ocean as much as usual. As a result, the oceans have been recovering pretty well. ”Although COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in human societies around the world, it may just be the silver lining in the dark clouds engulfing the world’s oceans,” stated Dr. Palitha Kohona. This quote illustrates how COVID-19 is not going well for us, but for the oceans and sea creatures, it may just be the thing to save them.

The main reason sea creatures die is because of pollution. This is due to the fact that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean, which takes up more than 88% of the Earth’s ocean surface. Many species of sea life are endangered because of all of the plastic in the ocean. For instance, sea turtles who are an iconic marine animal. The Pacific Loggerhead sea turtle is one species that is most endangered by the pollution. These turtles have been endangered since 1978.

According to the article titled “The Countries Polluting the Oceans the Most with Plastic Waste” on the website plastic ethics, 270+species of animals have been caught in plastic and 240+ have ingested it. An environmental engineer from the University of Georgia named Jenna Jambeck figured out that China and Indonesia have caused the most ocean pollution with a total of more than 5 million tons of plastic waste. 

In conclusion, the ocean has been poorly treated for the last couple of years. This year, that started turning around. The oceans have been slowly getting better. The most important thing that you can do as an individual is to not litter. Even if you are just one person, it will have a big impact on the ocean’s environment as well as the well being of all the sea creatures.