A whisper from the woods

The Impact of Plastic Pollution on Marine Life

Nov 13, 2023

Did you know that…

70% of the planet’s surface is covered in water,
97% of the Earth’s water is salt water (oceans and seas),
Only 3% is freshwater,
And that only 1% is available for human consumption!

Considering these numbers, Imam will tell us more about the effects of plastic pollution on marine life.

Imam lives in Nigeria, and his country has a coastline of nearly 850 kilometers, with nine out of the thirty-six states situated on the Atlantic coast (Gulf of Guinea). Nigeria has a population of more than 225 million people, and approximately 20 million people live along the coastal zone. This coastal area has a lot of industrial activities, such as fishing, shipping, marine manufacturing, construction, and more.

Nigeria’s coast (Google Maps)

With coastal industries and people inhabiting this space, plastic pollution might almost seem inevitable. Imam says that plastic pollution has a significant impact on marine life, leading to various negative consequences.

Here are some of the problems faced due to the plastic pollution:

  1. Entanglement: Marine animals such as dolphins, seals, turtles, and birds often get entangled in plastic debris like fishing nets, six-pack rings, and plastic bags. This can lead to severe injuries, lacerations, and even death.
  2. Ingestion: Marine animals, particularly fish, seabirds, and turtles, mistake small plastic fragments and microplastics for food. This ingestion can cause blockage of the digestive system, leading to malnutrition, starvation, and even death.
  3. Chemical toxicity: Plastics contain various chemicals, including additives and pollutants, which can leach into the marine environment. When ingested or absorbed by marine animals, these chemicals can disrupt their endocrine system, impair their reproductive health, and cause long-term health issues.
  4. Habitat destruction: Plastic pollution can damage coral reefs, seagrasses, and other marine habitats. Large plastic debris can smother and destroy fragile ecosystems, disrupting the balance of the marine ecosystem and affecting the overall biodiversity.
  5. Disruption of the food web: Plastic pollution can reduce the availability of food sources for marine organisms. For example, as microplastics are mistaken for plankton by filter-feeding animals like whales or manta rays, it can lead to a decrease in their food supply, potentially affecting their survival and reproductive capacity.
  6. Altered behavior: Floating plastic debris can alter the behavior of marine animals. For instance, seabirds may mistake plastic fragments for prey and feed them to their chicks, leading to malnutrition and reduced breeding success.
  7. Death and population decline: The cumulative impact of plastic pollution on marine life often leads to increased mortality rates and population decline for many species. This depletion can have cascading effects on the entire marine ecosystem, including the loss of important ecological functions and services.

So, addressing the issue of plastic pollution and reducing its impact is crucial to protect marine life, and to preserve the health and integrity of our oceans!

What do you think? How do you deal with plastic pollution in your area? Please tell us about your experience in the comment section below!


Written by Imam Maiyaki,
GTI Regional Coordinator,

– – – – –

You can learn more about “Water, the Blue Gold” by checking out this article on our website.

For further reading on Nigeria’s coastline and population, see the articles below (external links):
Marine resources of Nigeria
Nigeria Population


Please share this. Thank you!


Submit a Comment

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

Other blog posts

Ask me almost anything, May 2024

As tree planters, we take for granted the collection of rainwater to irrigate our plants.  Whether we live in an urban or rural setting, rainwater harvesting is a relatively cheap and effective way to sustain the water needs of ourselves, our plants and our animals.

Traveling with Trees, May 2024

Today I am sharing about a special tree, the Weeping Bottlebrush. This particular tree lives in Sebastian, Florida in the United States. It is a haven for all kinds of creatures such as birds, squirrels, lizards, lichen, and bugs too!

Food for Thought, May 2024

Food defines us – what we eat, how we eat it, how many times a day we do so! Our diets and the way they evolved have deep historical, cultural, and even religious roots, making this a sensitive topic for many and a complicated target for change.

As within so without

We are well aware of the massive positive impact that planting trees has both on our environment and our physical well-being. So, I’d like to talk about less commonly explored side effects – the impact of planting trees on our mind, our mental health, and even on our perception of reality. 

Food For Thought, April 2024

According to a WWF report, Bending the Curve, our diets are the leading cause of death all over the world. Unbalanced diets and lifestyles are responsible for the rising numbers of obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.

Community Blog, March 2024

For this year’s theme, International Day of Zero Waste highlights the importance of supporting waste management worldwide and promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Ask me almost anything, March 2024

Wetlands are saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally. This saturation creates an environment with unique soil conditions and functions, which shape the adaptations of the plants that call wetlands “home”.

Traveling with Trees, March 2024

Jennifer is now back on a bi-monthly basis to tell us about her experience in Nature and with trees. Join us in welcoming and thanking Jennifer and her new column Traveling with Trees.

Food for Thought, March 2024

Paired with last month’s recipe, this one is inspired by the Tree Sisters which make a great combo both on the fileds and on our plates.

Taking Your Business Paperless for the Good of the Planet

These days, more and more businesses are going paperless to save money, and space, and improve their operations in today’s digital age

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our newsletter. Stay tuned to all our news. There is more to come.

You have Successfully Subscribed!