While terrestrial organisms like humans enjoy breathing 21% of oxygen present in the air, marine organisms have to depend on a mere 1% of oxygen concentration in water. However, the unquenchable avarice and ridiculous megalomania of humans has started depleting even this small quantity of oxygen. With the thin line on which the marine world breathes on being vanished rapidly, only adverse repercussions await.
Falling oxygen levels and rising dangers to marine organisms
The diffusion of oxygen from the air into the sea plays a major role in fulfilling the oxygen requirements of marine organisms. Oxygen produced by photosynthesizing marine plants is also used by these organisms to meet their needs.
What happens when the necessary supply of this gaseous elixir is disturbed? Danger steps in. Since the 1950s, oxygen content in oceans has dropped by 2%, and the fact that this figure is only expected to rise in the upcoming years highlights the seriousness of the issue.
Presently, there exist certain pockets of the ocean with little or no oxygen. While such places called “oxygen minimum zones” exist naturally, human activities are expanding these zones and the threats that come with them. But what’s more is that apart from these zones, the levels of oxygen, a gas as essential to marine life as it is to us, are dropping at numerous other places of oceans too.
What are the reasons behind declining oxygen levels?
Global warming fuelled by human actions is primarily responsible for plummeting oxygen levels. The warmer the oceans become, the lesser the oxygen that can dissolve in them and the greater is the threat to members of the marine world. Ocean de-oxygenation leads to the production of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane which contribute further to global warming.
The discharge of sewage, chemicals and other pollutants into oceans directly also contributes to de-oxygenation. In addition to that, draining pollutants into oceans increases the content of nutrients and favors the growth of organisms such as jellyfish and algae which create an endangering mismatch in the marine environment.
Pockets of low oxygen levels force numerous marine species to search for areas with sufficient oxygen, compelling them to alter their natural behaviors. This may also lead to massive changes in their distributions, posing a threat not only on them, but our economic activities, such as fishing, too.
Human activities that turn blind eye towards the environment are forcing thousands of marine organisms to breathe their last. While we continue pushing for accelerated development, the rich life in our oceans is choking to death. Reforms need to be made, especially on an individual basis, before we lose this environmentally diverse planet from our hands.