Updated: Jan 11
Fish. One of the most beautiful creatures on our planet. They’re seen in oceans, lakes and the glass-bordered fish tanks in our homes. The beautiful aquatic beings have fascinated me right from childhood. I find their colors and existence absolutely stunning. It is because of my love towards fish that I’m deeply saddened by the pain caused to them. Every day, we as human beings harm fishes by polluting their water. Water is treated and chemicals are supposedly removed from dirty water before they enter the ocean. Despite these attempts at protecting them, harm is still caused to them. Let me educate you about the few ways in which polluted water negatively affects fish.
Oxygen depleting nutrients
Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus enter water with fertilizer runoff or sewage. These nutrients cause plants and algae to grow at rates much higher than normal. This leads to plant overgrowth and the growth of harmful algae. When this increased number of plants and algae die, their decaying process lowers the oxygen level in the water owing to the large amount in which they form. The level of oxygen often reduces to a point where fish can no longer survive and can be fatal to them.
Synthetic chemicals such as pesticides and metals emitted by burning of fossil fuels are toxic to fish in low concentrations. Fish are highly sensitive to pesticides and die when they come in contact with them. The emission of heavy metals however causes impairment in a fish’s sense of smell which desensitizes them to predators. Either way, both these chemicals are the cause of a rise in the death toll of fish.
Toxin build up
Most of us may have read about this in our biology textbooks, however it’s such a rampant killer of fish that I just had to mention it. Fish feed on invertebrates that thrive underwater. If the synthetic chemicals mentioned earlier do not kill them, the toxins get transferred when a fish eats the invertebrate. Over time, these chemicals travel up the food chain, reaching a fatal level and taking the lives of the poor fishes.
Despite popular belief, most water treatment plants lack the ability to remove pharmaceuticals during the water treatment process. This means the prescription drugs that we use, in a way, affect the fish in the sea. Each time a drug is ingested by an individual, a small part is excreted from the body and flushed down the toilet.
Some of these pollutants are not in our control while some are in our control. The heavy metals for example. They are omitted by the burning of fossil fuels which is basically what our cars do. Vehicular pollution not only affects the air but also the sea! So, try to carpool, walk to destinations and travel in an eco-friendly way. It matters to our beloved fish in the sea. If you see pollutants being thrown into the sea, point out the injustice and try to make it stop! Every effort goes a long way!