Exploring Polluted Waters

Josh, Harry and Joe, students from Penrice, investigate water pollution, it’s serious impact on marine life and why it is important to protect it.

Some shocking facts:

  • 100,000 marine creatures a year die from plastic entanglement and these are the only ones found.
  • There is more micro plastic in the in ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way.
  • 322 million tons of plastic were produced in 2015- the same weight as 900 empire state buildings with only a small percentage being recycled.
  • Normally plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose in the water.
  • Approximately 1 million sea birds die yearly.
  • More than 50% of sea turtles have consumed plastic.

But it is not only our oceans that are affected; plastic pollution is everywhere. This is a picture of the pond at Penrice – in this small body of water you can see plastic.

Expert’s opinion

We spoke to Mr Waters, Science teacher at Penrice Academy and marine enthusiast!

Josh: “What is the greatest threat to marine biology?”

Mr Waters: “There are two major threats to marine biology. Number one is ocean acidification which is when the water turns more acidic. And number two is there is a massive amount of plastic in the ocean.”

Harry:  “What effects does plastic and other pollution have on the marine environment?”

Mr Waters: “Plastic breaks down and these micro plastics are eaten as food. A lot of these micro plastics are eaten by predators in a food chain by the process of bioaccumulation.”

Joe: “How can we as individuals help combat water pollution?”

Mr Waters: “Education and making awareness. Make decisions in life not to use as much plastic. We could also recycle plastic as long as it recyclable.”

Harry: “How can Penrice work together to help raise awareness of this issue?”

Mr Waters: “We need to look at what we do with our waste. And we also need to start taking more responsibility?”

What we can do about it?

Many organisations, like Surfers Against Sewage, strive to clean the oceans of plastic pollution. There are also many activities available to help clean beaches such as: “Pick up Three,” where you pick up three pieces of rubbish each time you go to the beach. This is important as if all eight billion people on the planet pick up three pieces of rubbish weekly, which would be 24 billion pieces of rubbish x 52, which is a lot of plastic! That small act could almost eliminate the problem of plastic pollution… think of the outcome if we picked up more than three pieces per week!