World

What is ocean plastic doing to marine animals?

Sarah Lazarus, CNN

Published 10:05 PM ET, Wed December 11, 2019
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NPW Midway Chick Beach NOAANPW Midway Chick Beach NOAA
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Plastic pollution in the ocean is a massive -- and growing -- problem. Midway Atoll, a remote island situated on the edge of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is covered with plastic debris swept onto its beaches by oceanic currents. This Laysan albatross chick is being fed pieces of plastic by its parents, which mistake the waste for food. Seabirds which ingest plastic waste are smaller, lighter and suffer from a litany of health problems. Plastic waste kills up to one million seabirds every year. COURTESY NOAA
The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the most endangered seal species in the world with an estimated population of 1,400. Chewing on plastic bottles will not help their survival. COURTESY NOAA
This sunfish has got trapped in a ghost fishing net, off the coast of Spain's Costa Brava. According to Greenpeace, an estimated 640,000 tonnes of fishing gear is dumped or lost in the ocean every year, making up a significant proportion of all marine plastic waste. The nets can carry on fishing for hundreds of years, killing fish, whales, dolphins, turtles and seabirds. Reinard Dircherl/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Sea turtles fall victim to ghost fishing nets. NOAA
An estimated 8 million tons of plastic waste enter the world's oceans each year. plastic oceans
People risk consuming plastic through contaminated fish. A 2015 survey revealed that a quarter of market fish in Indonesia and California contain plastic. TED ALJIBE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
This hermit crab in the Maldives has mistaken a plastic cup for a suitable home. Malcolm Schuyl/Flpa/imageBROKER//Shutterstock
Herons feeding on plastic at a garbage dump near the coast in Aceh province, Indonesia. Indonesia is among the biggest contributors of oceanic plastic. Zikri Maulana/SOPA Images/Getty Images