What is Underwater Pollution?
Underwater pollution, also known as marine pollution, refers to the contamination or introduction of harmful substances into the marine environment. It encompasses various pollutants, including chemicals, plastics, oil spills, sewage, and excessive nutrients, which have detrimental effects on marine ecosystems, organisms, and overall biodiversity.
Underwater pollution can occur from both land-based and maritime activities. Land-based sources include industrial and agricultural runoff, improper waste disposal, and urban sewage discharge that find their way into rivers, estuaries, and ultimately, the oceans. Maritime activities contribute to pollution through accidental oil spills, the discharge of ship-generated waste, and the improper disposal of hazardous materials at sea.
One of the most significant contributors to underwater pollution is oil spills. Accidental spills from oil tankers, offshore drilling platforms, or pipeline leaks pose severe threats to marine life. Oil coats the surface of the water, reducing the amount of sunlight reaching underwater vegetation and harming marine organisms through ingestion or physical contact.
Another major concern is the accumulation of plastic debris in the oceans. Plastics, especially microplastics, are ingested by marine animals, leading to entanglement, suffocation, and internal injuries. This pollution disrupts marine food chains, damages coral reefs, and affects the overall health of marine ecosystems.
Sewage and nutrient pollution, resulting from inadequate wastewater treatment or improper disposal, contribute to the proliferation of harmful algal blooms. These blooms deplete oxygen levels in the water, leading to “dead zones” where marine life cannot survive. Additionally, excessive nutrient pollution can disrupt the balance of marine ecosystems, promoting the growth of invasive species and negatively impacting native species.
Underwater pollution can also concern underwater noise pollution that is disturbing all the well-being of marine species.
Addressing underwater pollution requires a combination of regulatory measures, technological advancements, and public awareness. International conventions and regulations, such as the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), aim to reduce pollution from maritime activities. Improved waste management systems, enhanced treatment of sewage and industrial effluents, and stricter controls on the discharge of pollutants are crucial steps in mitigating underwater pollution.
Learn more about Underwater Pollution: