On earth, the deepest oceanic trench is in the Pacific Ocean, its depth is about 10,984 ± 25 meters and all over the world, it is known as the Marina trench. The trench is deep enough that it has never been explored by humans. According to recent studies, a team of scientists discovered something shocking in this deep-sea trench. They found plastic pollution and other man-made trash in the Marina trench causing pollution in the oceans and damaging marine life. This pollution includes everything from micro plastics to forgotten fishing nets, but it’s mostly composed of plastic bags. This discovery was shocking because it showed how far plastic had spread across the globe and any plastic pieces that have been discarded on land will eventually end up in this trench.

Plastic is basically made up of all kinds of materials, but most plastics are made from oil products which makes it very difficult to break down or recycle, and mainly due to the deep-water coldest temperature as well as darkness of the trench it can take up to 1000 years to decompose the plastic trash present in the Marina trench. As there are no currents or waves to bring up anything from its depths show that any plastic material which reaches there will remain in the depth for thousands of years. Marine wildlife like jellyfish, turtles and whales sometimes mistake plastic for food and eat it which ultimately leads to their death. Also, some marine animals get entangled in plastic and become injured whereas, some animals die from dehydration or starvation. The chemical pollutant that comes from the degradation of plastic also affects marine life. The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean which ultimately shows that this could be a huge problem if we don't find a way to stop our plastic pollution. To make sure we are not creating an environmental catastrophe; we need to start making changes now. 

The ocean has become the most vulnerable environment for animals due to excessive plastic pollution. When plastic gets enter the sea, the storm and waves carry this waste material to shores of beaches and some of them accumulate in the depth of sea. Due to anthropogenic activities, the accumulation of plastic is increasing day by day which is alarming for sea creatures as we have seen many documentaries and studies which show the harmful impacts of plastic on marine animals. With the passage of time, plastic breaks down into fragments or smaller pieces and even sometimes smaller than a grain of sand. At this stage, it becomes impossible to rectify the plastic from ocean.

 Marine animals are struggling with this prevailing situation because they are often stuck or twisted with plastic bags and lose their potential to move or eat. This turns them into risk especially if predators are near and sometimes, they also die due to hunger.

Several studies shows that the fragments of plastic are found in the guts of animals especially birds and turtle are the main victim of this problem. The plastic is extremely perilous for marine creatures, it can block their gut or esophagus track so animal can’t breathe properly, and, in the end, animals die due to starvation. Simultaneously, these micro plastics also enter the marine food chain effecting variety of animals.

Avoid Plastic Pollution

The ideal way to minimize plastic pollution is to stop buying and using single-use plastic. But it’s not an easy task and we need some proper and long-lasting solutions. Here are some measurements or ways by which we can reduce plastic pollution.

Recycling and reuse

The chief source of this pollution is household waste, which is poorly handled, recycled and dumped into landfills without any proper care. This waste is then carried by strong winds, pushed by the rains into rivers, streams, channels and finally in the sea. Some natural disasters are also contributing in this pollution such as flood is considered as a major cause of plastic pollution or other harmful waste.  It is impossible to stop usage of plastic immediately, so recycling and reuse of plastic material is best alternative. This step can significantly reduce plastic waste and save biodiversity especially underwater species.

Reduce the usage of plastics

If we want to conserve biodiversity, there is a conspicuous need of reducing our plastic usage. We must change our prospective and daily life behaviors to limit the consumption of plastic. But it’s not an easy task to suddenly abandon anything so the best alternative is to using plastic when strictly necessary. By doing this we can gradually reduce our dependence on plastic and save our environment.

Create awareness and educate the people

Despite cleaning up our oceans, which is compelling step, now a days but not a long-term solution, the efficient way to address this problem is to switch our mindset and habits. Furthermore, we must create awareness regarding this issue on different platforms then we will be able to cope up this issue.

About the Author:

Sunil Tahir is a postgraduate scholar in Environmental science as well as a passionate activist of biodiversity conservation.

Fizzah Shahid