Marine animals face several challenges today, many of which are caused directly or indirectly by humans. One big recently identified threat to the oceans and marine life is plastic trash. This trash not only pollutes the oceans, but it can be eaten by animals, causing their death. Animals can also become entangled in pieces of plastic. This can cause loss of limbs or skin injuries ending in the death of the animal.
One simple solution is for you to stop using plastic products or at the very least reduce your use of plastic products and recycle what you do use. Some countries have introduced initiatives to curb such use of plastic. For instance, they require you to pay for plastic packets or they have banned plastic products such as plastic packets and drinking straws. Many countries now ban or tax plastic bags, which has led to a drop in their use and thus a drop in the amount of bags ending up in the trash. You can use a reusable cloth shopping bag and a reusable bottle for drinking.
You can also help by not using products that contain plastic micro beads. These are tiny pieces of plastic that many marine animals such as birds and fish mistake for food, ultimately causing the animal to die. These micro beads are often found in exfoliating products for the skin. Since 2015, the US has banned these products from use.
You can reduce your intake of foods that are overexploited and taken out of the marine ecosystem. This includes fish. Although fish can be healthy to eat, the problems of overfishing are real. Often nets will catch species that are not the target. For example, many seabirds are killed when they try to catch fish that are caught in fish nets. Dolphins, turtles and other marine creatures are also caught and killed every year by fishermen.
If you have pets, you should be responsible. Do not release non-native marine species into the ocean where you live. Exotic species can become invasive with negative consequences on other organisms and food webs.
Many people enjoy going to the beach or swimming and snorkeling in the ocean. Do not litter on the beach as this can end up in the ocean, which, of course, can add to the trash problem we already have. If you like to look in rock pools or go snorkeling, remember to avoid standing on or disturbing life forms that you see. Remember that these animals are sensitive to disturbance.
Also, do not remove animals from the ocean to place in your aquarium. This includes invertebrate animals which other animals rely on for food. You should also not buy such animals from a pet store as it simply encourages the pet industry. Unless the organisms are bred in captivity, it will mean that they will continue to take these organisms out of the wild.
If you follow some of these guidelines you will be able to help marine animals in all the oceans of the world.