Oceans all over the world are increasingly polluted, but the Indian Ocean is the most polluted of them all. The Indian Ocean Experiment, funded by the National Science Foundation, found pollution consisting of a brownish haze layer covering an area the size of the continental United States. Scientists involved in the project were "shocked by the amount of pollution found in their 6 week experiment." Many of the particles that make up this pollution comes from areas 1000 miles away, and is testimony to the inability and unwillingness of many countries in the Asian and Indian landmass to confront honestly the byproducts of their breakneck race for prosperity.
In the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, part of the Arctic Ocean, a fibrous, hairy goo called "the blob" extended for miles. It turned out to be a massive algae bloom, unprecedented according to local Inupiat Eskimo residents along Alaska's north shore. Though this bloom appeared not to be toxic, when it takes the form of a red tide, they become disastrous markers of an out of balance sea, and a growing danger to plankton, shellfish, other fish and sea creatures that eat them, including humans. In the north Pacific, there is an area called the Eastern Garbage Patch, which has been described as "more than just a few floating plastic bottles washed out to sea; the Patch is a giant mass of trash-laden water nearly double the size of Texas." Pictures of this area are shocking, and the task of eliminating this almost endless collection of detritus and debris will remain one of the daunting tasks of the civilized world for decades to come.
One way to combat future accumulations in our oceans of this obnoxious material is to utilize biodegradable products in ever increasing amounts. For example, if a concerted effort was made to replace many of our indigestible plastic materials with biodegradable or compostable alternatives, then some reasonable and measurable contributions to reducing this blight would have begun, and not soon enough. For example,biodegradable trash bags are available now and wouldn't last long enough to end up in our oceans, degrading rapidly in landfills to little more than carbon dioxide and water. Even if they end up in our lakes, rivers and oceans, they will dissolve without causing any pollution. Other items like biodegradable packing peanuts can replace all kinds of obnoxious packing materials and help our environment at the same time. There are many other items of this sort that can go a long way towards reducing the amount of pollution in our oceans, items like compostable bags, sugar cane dinner plates, bowls, hot cups, corn starch knives, forks and spoons, and of course, the whole universe of recycled products that help to reduce waste as well. This is not the whole solution to an overwhelming problem, but it is a step in the right direction towards a cleaner and healthier world.