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Ocean Plastics Pollution

Center for Biological Diversity

 

Plastics pollution has a direct and deadly effect on wildlife. Thousands of seabirds and sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals are killed each year after ingesting plastic or getting entangled in it. Endangered wildlife like Hawaiian monk seals and Pacific loggerhead sea turtles are among nearly 700 species that eat and get caught in plastic litter.

 

In the first decade of this century, we made more plastic than all the plastic in history up to the year 2000. And every year, billions of pounds of more plastic end up in the world's oceans. Studies estimate there are now 15–51 trillion pieces of plastic in the world's oceans — from the equator to the poles, from Arctic ice sheets to the sea floor. Not one square mile of surface ocean anywhere on earth is free of plastic pollution.

 

The problem is growing into a crisis. The fossil fuel industry plans to increase plastic production by 40 percent over the next decade. These oil giants are rapidly building petrochemical plants across the United States to turn fracked gas into plastic. This means more toxic air pollution and plastic in our oceans.

 

Unfortunately, plastic is so durable that the EPA reports “every bit of plastic ever made still exists.” All five of the Earth's major ocean gyres are inundated with plastic pollution. The largest one has been dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s the largest accumulation of plastic in the world.

 

Thousands of animals, from small finches to blue whales, die grisly deaths from eating and getting caught in plastic.