Show of hands: How many of you beach goers have done a number one in the ocean? Don’t worry -- we won’t tell. There’s probably a lot of you doing it. But is this OK? Or with every dribble are you slowly polluting this fish?
Actually, no -- fish are not harmed by your pee. If anything you are helping the ocean every time your drain the dragon, based on chemistry. Urine is basically water, sodium and chloride, but so is the ocean, with an even higher sodium and chloride to water ratio than your pee. Both contain potassium. Then the urea in your pee breaks down in the water to form ammonium, which is plant food. So, your pee-pee is feeding the plants and fish. You are very welcome, ocean.
This video from the American Chemical Society breaks it down:
Now, just because you can pee in the ocean, don’t go crazy and start peeing in every body of water you encounter: the tub, pools, reefs, and small bodies of fresh water are off limits for various reasons.
The tub and pools are obvious, right? It’s too small of a space for the pee to dissipate. It was once thought that the uric acid in urine could mix with the chlorine in a pool and cause respiratory issues and skin irritation, but that would take a skin-blistering ratio of chlorine to water and truckload full of pee (more than even a pool full of toddlers at swim class). Still, keep the P out of the pool.
Don’t pee on a coral reef because too much nitrogen and phosphates can affect the delicate ecosystem and inhibit coral growth.
Lakes with too much phosphates (found in urine) have been known to suffer from algae bloom resulting in dead fish. The urine basically fertilizes the algae, causing overgrowth and choking the fish. The pee is really only chemically balanced in large bodies of salt water, thus why it’s okay to empty your tank in the ocean.
What about that old wives tale that sharks will come around to feast at the first sign of pee? It a myth, according to National Geographic. They threw two divers in the water, one with a slow leaking bottle of pee, and one without. There was no increase of sharks attracted to the pee, so you don’t have to have any fear about sparking a feeding frenzy if you tinkle.
The next time you want to pee in the ocean, just be sure to use manners and don’t pee on the legs of your fellow swimmers because, duh, that’s gross. Give yourself a little room during high tide and let you pee flag fly.