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Every day marine life is being deafened by noise, poisoned by toxins, and choked by the 8 million pieces of plastic that enter our oceans daily.
However, to most people, the earth’s seven oceans seem vast and totally impervious to our actions.
Therefore to highlight the fragility of our oceans and the life that it supports, I have pulled together 27 great quotes that can stir the mind and provoke action.
Pollution Quotes Highlighting A Fragile Ocean
“I often struggle to find words that will communicate the vastness of the Pacific Ocean to people who have never been to sea.
Yet as I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean, I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic.”
– Charles Moore
“We are being choked to death by the amount of plastic that we throw away. It’s killing our oceans. It’s entering into our bodies in the fish we eat.”
– Kevin Bacon
“The sudden release of five million barrels of oil, enormous quantities of methane, and two million gallons of toxic dispersants into an already greatly stressed Gulf of Mexico will permanently alter the nature of the area.”
– Sylvia Earle
“You never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”
– Thomas Fuller
The trash in the Ocean
The majority of the garbage that enters the ocean each year is plastic—and it’s there to stay. That’s because, unlike other household trash, single-use grocery bags, water bottles, drinking straws, and yogurt containers don’t naturally biodegrade.
Instead, these plastics can persist in the environment for a millennium, polluting our beaches, entangling marine life, and getting ingested by fish and seabirds.
“We absolutely need to clean up the plastic that’s already in the ocean. It won’t go away by itself.
But we do also need to make sure that no more plastic enters the oceans in the first place. These things should go hand in hand.”
– Boyan Slat
“When plastics do break down, they don’t biodegrade; rather, they break into increasingly smaller pieces, many of which end up in the oceans as microplastics that harm aquatic life and birds.”
– Dr. David Suzuki
“Arctic Harp seal pup populations are declining as they are commercially hunted for oil and fur, and global warming causes the ice where pups are born to break up and melt.
Now, these sweet and adorable pups face yet another human threat: oil spills.”
– Zoe Helene
“If we don’t preserve the oceans from nitrate runoff and plastic and chemicals, and if we don’t preserve it from acidification, and if we don’t preserve it from grotesque overfishing – too much money chasing too few fish – we’re going to have the most massive ecosystem on the planet in peril.”
– John F. Kerry
The ocean is far from a “silent world.” Sound waves travel farther and faster in the sea’s dark depths than they do in the air, and many marine mammals like whales and dolphins, in addition to fish and other sea creatures, rely on communication by sound to find food, mate, and navigate.
But an increasing barrage of human-generated ocean noise pollution alters the underwater acoustic landscape, harming—and even killing—marine species worldwide.
“Ocean acidification is often referred to as osteoporosis of the oceans because as acidity rises, shell-building creatures such as lobster, oyster, crab, shrimp, and coral are unable to extract the calcium carbonate from the water that they need to build their shells and are thus unable to survive.”
– Philippe Cousteau, Jr.
“It’s a very strange experience to be four or five days from the closest point of land, and you see more plastic than life.”
– Boyan Slat
“We know about man’s impact on the ocean in terms of fishing and overfishing, but we don’t really know much about what’s happening underneath the water.
And in fact, shipping has a role to play here because shipping noise has contributed to damaging the acoustic habitats of ocean creatures.”
– Rose George
“Industrial pollution and the discarding of plastic waste must be tackled for the sake of all life in the ocean.”
– Sir David Attenborough
In addition to noise pollution, the oil and gas industry’s routine operations emit toxic by-products, release high levels of greenhouse gases, and lead to thousands of spills in U.S. waters annually.
That oil can linger for decades and do irreversible damage to delicate marine ecosystems.
“Human activity is having a major impact on the planet. We consume or have diverted a large proportion of the productivity of the land and oceans.
Our hunger for land crowds out fellow species. Our waste products pollute the waters, warm the atmosphere and acidify the oceans.”
– Ian Goldin
“Whales are humanity’s canary in the coal mine…
As ocean pollution levels increase, marine mammals like whales will be among the first to go.”
– Roger Payne
“Coastlines are very effective ways of catching plastic. But the thing is, in those vast ocean garbage patches, there’s simply no coastlines to catch any plastic.”
– Boyan Slat
“Pollution from oil and gas development, toxic runoff, and miles and miles of plastic trash foul the waters and threaten marine life.”
– Frances Beinecke
When we burn fossil fuels, we don’t pollute just the air but the oceans, too. Indeed, today’s seas absorb as much as a quarter of all human-made carbon emissions, which changes the pH of surface waters and leads to acidification.
This problem is rapidly worsening—oceans are now acidifying faster than they have in some 300 million years. It’s estimated that by the end of this century if we keep pace with our current emissions practices, the ocean’s surface waters could be nearly 150 percent more acidic than they are now.
“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men will never gather up all the plastic and put the ocean back together again.”
– Captain Charles Moore
“I guess over the course of time; I started to open up to a lot of the issues surrounding the oceans.
From my personal experience, being out in the water and seeing plastics floating around and thinking they are jellyfish and realizing they’re plastic bags. I’m always that guy that will take it into the shore.”
– Cody Simpson
“You wouldn’t think you could kill an ocean, would you? But we’ll do it one day. That’s how negligent we are.”
– Ian Rankin
“There are five known gyres spinning around in our world’s oceans. A gyre is a slowly moving spiral of currents created by a high-pressure system of air currents.
A spinning soup, so to speak, is made of what exists in the water. And in this case, the gyres are spinning with millions of tons of our discarded and forgotten about plastic waste!”
– Brandon Boyd
Ocean Pollution and You
The fate of our seas is not only up to the government or industry. Our individual, daily actions matter, too.
You can support NRDC and other environmental advocacy groups and other businesses and organizations that work to preserve coasts and waters.
NRDC works to safeguard the earth—its people, plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.
“Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue, and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem because plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food.”
– Frans Timmermans
“The concentration of plastic is rapidly increasing in the gyres. Even if you were to close off the tap, and no more plastic entered the ocean, that plastic would stay there, probably for hundreds of years.”
– Boyan Slat
I hope you found these pollution quotes interesting and felt moved to explore opportunities to keep plastic and other such contaminants out of our oceans.
The NRDC has many articles related to this goal and details about how to get involved.
In the meantime, here are a few links to related articles on this website.