Last February 16 to 21, the Ocean Sciences Meeting (OSM) 2020 was held in San Diego, California. It featured entire sessions of various researchers, mostly oceanographers.
The main purpose of this gathering is to share the results of recent studies made on the biggest body of water and the various issues surrounding it at the present.
It is important to know what the latest developments of these studies are to raise awareness and create urgency to save the planet.
Just how big is the ocean’s impact?
The ocean covers 70% of the planet. Its vastness alone says a lot about how big its capacity to affect life is. It is home to biodiversity, which when compromised, will directly affect man.
Planktons and seafood are part of the food chain. Without them, how will man survive? And the different species of sea plants and animals are all integral in maintaining balance to the global ecosystem.
Also, typhoons are formed over these waters and its rising temperature worsens the climate. The higher the temperature is, the stronger the typhoons that sometimes result in loss of property or life are.
At the same time, the high temperature melts the glaciers which result in a rise in sea levels. The rising sea levels will wipe out some islands from the map and displace communities. Animals who thrive in the polar regions also suffer, and may soon be extinct if there will be no more ice.
Greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming also affect the oceans. The water absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This results in acidification that alters how marine organisms live, especially the corals.
Another problem that is getting more serious every day is plastic waste, which is a result of human activities.
How serious is the ocean’s plastic pollution?
In the Ocean Sciences Meeting, Erik van Sebille, a multi-awarded oceanographer, presented his studies on how plastic travels in the ocean currents.
He talked about the garbage patch and how plastic floats in the oceans. In his speech, he disclosed that there are about 15 to 51 trillion particles of floating plastics. These numbers translate to about 93 to 236 thousand metric tons of waste.
Those numbers are huge and worrisome, especially when thousands of animals die from ingesting plastic. And just where do most of these plastics go? No one knows for sure.
In many cases, some of the plastics were found to be in the stomachs of dead sea turtles. Once a sea turtle ingests it, the plastic will stay in its stomach. The plastic later kills the animal by blocking its digestive system.
Why do these animals even eat garbage? Because, for the sea turtle, plastic smells like food and it will never be able to tell the difference.
The ocean is a powerful force that can disrupt the balance in the world. It is suffering from the effects of human activities, and in turn, it is behaving in ways that are detrimental to man as well. (See Related: What Is the Latest About Climate Change?)
But it is not yet too late to save it for future generations. Initiatives like the OSM 2020 show that there is still hope.