5 Ways Water Pollution Is Killing Animals

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on April 3, 2014. Enjoy!

Human activities are contaminating the world’s water systems and disrupting wildlife. From toxic chemical runoff  to the accumulation of litter miles away from land, here are five ways water pollution is killing animals:

1. More Than a Million Sea Birds and Mammals Are Killed Each Year By Ingestion of Plastic

Around 100 million tons of plastic is produced every year, of which 10 percent ends up in the sea. Ocean litter comes from many sources — including trash that washes off city streets, waste blown in from landfills and containers that fall off ships during heavy storms. Once in the water, the debris accumulates in large patches, travels with currents and washes up onshore. This litter is frequently consumed — often with fatal effects — by marine mammals, fish and birds who mistake it for food. The Trash Vortex of the North Pacific ocean consists of trillions of pieces of decomposing plastic that forms a gigantic swirling garbage patch the size of Texas.

2. Chemical Runoff From Farms Has Caused 400 Dead Zones Around the World

The use of pesticides and fertilizers on farms has increased an alarming 26 fold over the last 50 years, causing serious environmental consequences. Chemical runoff from farms is leaching into nearby streams, waterways and groundwater, killing thousands of insects and fish. The presence of fertilizers in the water alters nutrient systems, resulting in explosive growths of algae that produce harmful toxins and deplete the water of oxygen, and as a result little or no marine life can exist. Scientists have recorded an estimated 400 such dead zones around the world.

3. Noise Pollution Is Driving Animals to Extinction

Pollution is not always physical. Sound waves from ships, sonar devices and oil rigs can travel for miles disrupting migration, communication, hunting and reproduction patterns of many marine animals. The deafening noise of gas and oil explorations are so loud that they are causing devastating effects to the sea life residing in our world’s oceans such as mass strandings, reckless diving, the inability to find food and chronic stress. Extreme noise pollution has been known to kill hundreds of dolphins and whales at a time, many of which are already on the brink of extinction.

4. Cruise Ships Dump More Than 250,000 Gallons of Wastewater and Sewage Every Day

Due to lax laws, cruise ships have been operating with little to no environmental regulations, and as a result have caused a great deal of damage to sensitive marine life. Current regulations allow cruise ships to legally dump untreated sewage and other waste once the ships are three miles from shore. This toxic waste is discharged directly into the ocean and contains bacteria, pathogens, medical waste, oils, detergents, heavy metals and other harmful substances, all of which are putting aquatic life at risk.

5. Acid Rain Discharges Toxic Amounts of Aluminum into the Water Systems

When water in the atmosphere mixes with certain chemicals, in particularly those omitted from burning fossil fuels, acidic compounds are formed. Acid rain has been linked to many serious adverse effects on ecosystems, especially aquatic ecosystems on which it falls. Through the discharge of toxic amounts of aluminum into the water, pH levels are altered, killing many animals outright and throwing delicate ecosystems out of balance.

You can help to protect the planet and sustain the world’s ecosystems by supporting environmental groups that are fighting to put a stop to these harmful practices, as well as by making your own conscious decisions regarding waste management, harmful chemicals and earth friendly alternatives to your everyday products.

Photo Credit: Mark Galer/Unsplash


One Heart i
One Heart inc10 days ago


Greta H
Greta H11 days ago

Thank you

David C
David C11 days ago

thanks,, at some point humanity as a whole will realize that we need to protect our home....the only one for life

Margie FOURIE16 days ago

So sad that humans are to blame.

Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D18 days ago

I hope and pray everyone will step up and do the best they can do to start conversation and shed light on this issue. tRUMP is trying to undo all the good previously done. THAT MUST BE STOPPED!

bob Petermann
bob P24 days ago

With the current administration trying to tear down all regulations, people better start speaking up. This info. should be in all the papers and on the news channels (this is not fake news.) Thanks for sharing

Nancy Wrightington

Leave it to US, as in humans!

David C
David C25 days ago

thanks, noted, all one can do is do their best and try to encourage the same in others

Maureen G
Maureen G27 days ago

To think that when I was on cruise ships I never gave sea pollution a thought....just another person with her head in the sand. But no more!!!!!!

earthism i
earthism info28 days ago

pollution of any type is harmful to nature as well as animals