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Destruction of Marine Habitats

Destruction of Marine Habitats

            Marine habitat destruction is becoming more prevalent of an issue than many recognize. Though humans and Mother Nature can share the blame for this problem, it is not even in the slightest. Costal areas, because they are so close to the human population, are experiencing impacts from manmade stresses that are becoming detrimental to marine habitats and to the overall biodiversity of these areas. Though hurricanes, typhoons, and other natural disasters have played their part in negatively impacting these environments, human impacts have proven to be much more consistent and harmful.

            As many can assume, areas with access to the ocean are typically areas with high levels of tourism. This brings millions of boaters, snorkelers, and scuba divers into direct contact with these fragile ecosystems. The hulls and anchors of the boats used for these activities can damage the habitats below. Destructive fishing techniques such as bottom trawling, dynamiting, and poisoning are also becoming more and more common and in turn adding to the damage of these habitats.

Image of Bottom Trawling

            The most significant impact on the destruction of these marine habitats is global climate change. “Global warming” is a term we have all become so familiar with yet most of us do not fully understand the impact it has that we cannot necessarily see. We hear about the constant rising temperatures on land, but rarely pay attention to the effects it is having on organisms other than us. As the earth’s temperature rises, the ocean is forced to absorb much of this extra heat. It is able to do this because of the high specific heat of water; a large amount of heat can be absorbed before the temperature of the water actually changes.

            The high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels, are absorbed into the ocean where the gas is dissolved into carbonic acid. This in turn leads to an increase in ocean acidification, which is extremely negative for marine organisms and their habitats. Many organisms, including the corals that make up a majority of the habitat, rely on calcification, or hardening, of their outer shells so to speak. An increase in ocean acidification causes this hardening to become more difficult or sometimes not occur at all. This decreases any organism’s ability to protect itself and destroys the coral reefs, the environment in which over thee quarters of fish use as their main habitat.

            Scientists agree that in order to stop this issue where it is right now, drastic measures would need to be taken. We need to realize that we are destroying out earth faster than we can comprehend because we often do not think about anything that isn’t right in front of us. Laws banning dumping into the ocean are having positive effects, but not enough to counteract the negative that we are doing. We have to come to the realization and accept that everything is interconnected so by destroying these habitats and organisms, we are inevitably destroying ourselves. 

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