How Pollution is Affecting Our Oceans

The world’s oceans are incredible and house the largest bodies of water on the planet. The world’s oceans’ cover 72% of the planet’s surface, provide over 97% of the world’s water supply and over 70% of the oxygen we breathe. We have so much to thank our oceans for; however, they are becoming increasingly threatened by pollution.

Ocean pollution, also known as marine pollution, is the contamination of substances such as oil, industrial waste, chemicals and plastic. Over 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. Ocean pollution comes in many forms, but the largest pollutant threat to our oceans in plastic. Plastic can have devastating consequences on marine life, often wiping out entire species.

Since our oceans are such an integral part of our daily lives, providing us with water and oxygen, it is essential we care for them properly. The world’s oceans’ are a marvel and are filled with diverse and abundant ecosystems, without which we would all suffer. So, how exactly is pollution affecting our oceans?



Sewage is a serious contaminant of the world’s oceans’, flowing straight through the drains and directly into the ocean. This is often how polluting substances and chemicals enter our oceans. The release of sewage into our oceans is having a devastating effect on the marine life by destroying plant life, severely declining the health and quality of the water and reducing the oxygen levels.

Industrial Chemicals and Toxins

Polluted Water

Industrial waste causes pollution in many ways but it is also extremely damaging to the world’s oceans. Industrial sectors often dispose of waste and toxic liquids straight into the ocean. The dumping of these toxic liquids greatly affects marine life as they are hazardous to fish and they raise the temperature of the ocean, known as thermal pollution. Much of the world’s marine life cannot survive in higher ocean temperatures, causing the death of entire fish species.

Land Runoff

Land Run-Off

Land runoff occurs when excess storm water from extreme rain-fall runs down the land, picking up soil and other debris as it travels. Land runoff is another source of ocean pollution and is a harmful ocean contaminant. This runoff picks up man-made harmful chemicals and pesticides, stones and debris, all of which damage marine life and reduce the quality of our oceans. Fertilisers on the land which can become washed into the oceans can be a huge detriment to the ocean by creating dead zones where everything in an area is wiped out by the toxins.

Large Scale Oil Spill

Oil Covered Bird

We have all seen, at some point, the horrific images of oil spills in the ocean. Ship pollution and the resulting oil spills are one of the most devastating threats to the health of the world’s oceans. Crude oil, especially, can last for years in the sea and is extremely toxic to marine life, often suffocating animals to death after entrapping them. Crude oil spills are extremely difficult to clean up, which unfortunately means that once spilled it is usually there to stay.

Ocean Mining

Ocean Mining

Ocean mining is another damaging source of ocean pollution that deposits chemicals up to three and a half thousand meters down into the ocean. Although further scientific research is required to accurately understand the full effects ocean mining is having, deep sea mining does cause damage to the lowest levels of the world’s oceans, increasing toxicity in the region.


Ocean Plastic

Littering is a major pollutant on-land and at sea. Often, littered objects that have been dumped further inland are gradually blown out to sea. This litter can be anything from natural debris such as dust and shingle, to man-made plastic and debris.

When plastic litters our oceans, it can become snagged around marine life or mistaken for food, slowly killing fish over extended periods of time. Plastic and other litter in the world’s oceans can have a terrible effect on marine life such as fish, sharks, dolphins, crabs, sea birds and turtles to name just a few.

Final Words

The effects of pollution on our oceans is shocking and it should make you want to take action! Here at James Waste, we are passionate about improving the state of the world’s oceans and drastically reducing pollution. We hope you have found this article useful and that it has effectively informed you on ocean pollution. If you would like further information, please get in touch today. Our friendly staff are always on-hand to give helpful advice and answer any questions you may have!

Author: Ben Taylor

Eco Warrior! Recycling Buff! Owner of James Waste Management LLP, UK recycling over 90% of waste.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *