How Our Oceans Get Polluted

By Scuba Diver Life

The oceans are huge - they cover over 70% of the world and hold 97% of the world's water. It would seem that anything we did would get diluted by so much water, but that's not the case.  Our destructive habits are having a profoundly negative effect on our world's oceans. Here's how.

  • Runoff

    This large category encompasses farms, roadway, mining, sewage runoff and more. Over 80% of water pollution comes from runoff that's full of phosphorus, minerals,  carbon, heavy metals, and nitrogen that cause [eutrophication]( and algal blooms. In excess, these blooms starve marine life of necessary oxygen. Mining has polluted 40% of the watersheds in the US and 75% of the toxic chemicals in Puget sound come from storm runoff. 

  • Oil

    Only 12% of the oil in the oceans is a result of actual oil spills, the rest is from runoff. Those oil spots you see on the roadways and in parking lots eventually make it into the ocean, and most boats lose oil too. Oil pollution is far more harmful to the oceans than trash as it suffocates marine life and causes drastic changes to the ecosystem. 

  • Flotsam and Jetsam

    Fishing nets discarded or lost by large and small fishing boats alike lurk in the oceans, entangle, and kill hundreds of thousands of marine animals each year.

  • Plastic and Other Litter

    Plastic doesn't decompose so every bottle, every bag, every piece of it that makes its way into the ocean stays there.  Plastic also absorbs toxic chemicals (even more toxic than the plastic itself) and then sometimes gets eaten by marine animals who later perish.  Billions of tons of litter end up in the ocean each year. 

  • Air Pollution

    Air pollution settles onto the ground and is eventually washed away as runoff.  Major dust events from dry areas like deserts affect coral reefs hundreds or even thousands of miles away by causing a decline in coral growth and even killing some corals.  This source of pollution also includes carbon dioxide, which is absorbed by the oceans, causing [acidification](

  • But There Is Hope

    Just because you don't live near the ocean doesn't mean that what you do doesn't affect it.  If we all do our part, we can help save our oceans and everything that lives in it.