The scale of ocean pollution is shockingly high, and it comes as no surprise that it is often densely populated areas with the highest pollution rates. Here, we’re taking a look at five of the most polluted oceans and the cause of the contamination.
The Caribbean Sea has been dubbed the most contaminated by human activity. Often famed for its beautiful, sandy beaches, the Caribbean has actually been so affected by waste, chemical pollutants, oil spills, climate change and overfishing that all marine life in this area is dwindling drastically.
Unsustainable factory farming made the Baltic Sea one of the world’s most polluted seas. A really bad year was 2010 – unprecedented potentially toxic algae bloom used to cover almost 377,000 square kilometers, an area larger than all of Germany. This kind of widespread enhanced plant growth reduces dissolved oxygen in the water. This affects marine ecosystems and can cause significant disturbance to them.A major source of this phenomenon is nutrients leaching from the huge amounts of manure produced in industrial livestock production, which contributes over 60-70% of diffuse and over half of total waterborne inputs there. Most of reactive nitrogen (ammonia) in airborne nitrogen deposition to Baltic Sea also originates from agriculture.
The Mediterranean is also one of the most polluted ocean in the world. The United Nations Environment Programme has estimated that 650,000,000 tons of sewage, 129,000 tons of mineral oil, 60,000 tons of mercury, 3,800 tons of lead and 36,000 tons of phosphates are dumped into the Mediterranean each year.
A garbage patch in the Indian Ocean was discovered in 2010. This patch, mainly formed by plastic debris and chemical sludge, is the third major collection of plastic garbage in the world’s oceans.According to the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX), the Indian Ocean is gravely polluted by plastic debris and chemical runoff, resulting in hypoxia.INDOEX has documented widespread pollution covering about 10 million sq km (3.86 million sq miles). According to scientists, tropical cyclones that cause large numbers of deaths around the Arabian Sea (region in the northern Indian Ocean) are becoming increasingly common as a result of pollution.
1. The Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic)
As the second largest expanse of water (after the Pacific Ocean) it is unsurprising that the Atlantic Ocean is home to some of the world’s worst pockets of pollution. One of which is centered on the basin in the Gulf of Mexico.This enclosed section, surrounded by the USA, Mexico and Cuba, is known as one of the largest dead zones in the world. The water in the Gulf is highly polluted with nitrogen and phosphorous which has come from American agricultural practices. This means the water is hypoxic (low in oxygen) and fish cannot survive here.The North Atlantic is also highly polluted. The North Atlantic Garbage Patch is essentially a gigantic rubbish island which floats around in the North Atlantic Gyre. First discovered in 1972, the Patch has continued to grow and scientists now believe it is hundreds of miles wide with more than 200,000 pieces of waste per square mile.The scale of ocean pollution is shockingly high, and it comes as no surprise that it is often densely populated areas with the highest pollution rates. Here, we’re taking a look at five of the most polluted oceans and the cause of the contamination.
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