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Author: Amy Hasher
Date: Sept. 2021
Publisher: Story Monsters LLC
Document Type: Article
Length: 798 words
Lexile Measure: 1150L

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Plankton are being threatened by the amount of garbage in the oceans. How do these tiny creatures make oxygen and what can we do to save them?

Every living thing needs to breathe. Humans, cats, dogs, and every other living organism. But are trees really behind the making of 100 percent of the oxygen we need to breathe? Well, no. In fact, less than half of the oxygen produced is produced by trees. Instead, we should thank plankton. Plankton, or phytoplankton, are tiny organisms that live in water. They are one-celled plants that grow during a process called photosynthesis. Phytoplankton are also part of the food chain. Creatures living in the water that eat plants eat the plankton. Creatures that eat meat eat plant-eating animals, and so on. But the real questions are: How do tiny one-celled creatures supply billions of living things with the oxygen they need to breathe? Why is water pollution affecting plankton, henceforth affecting us, too? And how can we stop water pollution? Well, first we must look at what they do to survive.

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As mentioned earlier, plankton goes through photosynthesis. They draw their energy from the sun and the water. These are the two things they need to live a healthy life. During this process, they also produce oxygen, which goes directly into their surroundings, in this case, the water in their environment. Put simply, phytoplankton are our main oxygen producers. To make this oxygen, they must go through photosynthesis first. During the process of photosynthesis, they release oxygen into the water, which soon makes its way into the world beyond their environment.

Garbage in the Oceans

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is exactly as it sounds, an enormous patch of garbage in the ocean. The GPGP stretches from the West Coast of North America all the way to Japan. The amount of plastic in the GPGP is so much that scientists and researchers do not know the exact size and depth of it. The main reason for this is because while some of the trash floats on the surface of the water, a lot of it can also sink multiple meters into the ocean.

Earlier I said plankton need the sun's light to live? Well, with the amount of garbage in the water, the amount of sunlight that reaches them is close to none. The plastic simply acts as an unintentional umbrella, blocking the sun from the water. Without one of the main keys to life, phytoplankton cannot exist. And, since they provide at least half of our oxygen supply, this is not good news for humans and other living things either.

So, what can we do to end water pollution?

The good news is attempts are already being made to clean the oceans. But, with the large number of plastics being used and carelessly thrown out, these attempts will not even make a dent. Even something as small as a candy wrapper or plastic straw will eventually make its way to the oceans and can harm the creatures we should be thanking. So, what is something the public can do to help stop the spread of water pollution?

Use biodegradable products.

For instance, instead of using a normal, plastic toothbrush, try an eco-friendly version, made of bamboo, or another material that will easily breakdown into the earth. Rather than using laundry detergent pods to put into your washing machine, try biodegradable laundry detergent. This can come in a cardboard box, instead of a plastic container, and will easily go back into the earth.

Stop using straws and other plastic products that are not essential.

Straws are not a necessity for many people. They of course can be helpful in the sense that instead of picking up your entire cup, you can lean down and sip out of a straw. However, plastic straws can be one of the many dangers to plankton. Switching your normal, everyday plastic straw for a reusable metal straw (or no straw at all), can make a large difference in the amount of plastic in the oceans. Plastic forks, spoons, and knives can be convenient at parties, or when you do not feel like doing the dishes, but they can also be a hindrance to sea animals. Using metal silverware that can be plunked into the dishwasher, or washed at the sink may take more time, but will also be a huge help to our main oxygen source.

Simply trading non-reusable products you use every day, for eco-friendly products can make a large impact on the oceanic environment. If everyone works together to make a difference, the waters may be safer in the future, not just for plankton, but for the many other species living in the water.

Works Cited:,

by Amy Hasher, age 14

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A674970390