Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

Why Should You Care About Ocean Plastic Pollution?

It’s more deadly than you realize.

Sea Turtle
Photo by Cédric Frixon on Unsplash

Sea turtles don’t matter.

But these tiny organisms control the fate of our oceans.

The Cuteness Factor

  • Mammals? (I’m talking dolphins, whales, and seals)
  • Birds? (Puffins and penguins anyone?)
  • Fish? (Think Finding Nemo)
  • Invertebrates? (Cute ones include octopuses, cuttlefish, sea stars and sea jellies)
  • Microscopic? (larval fish, copepods, larval invertebrates, coccolithophores, cyanobacteria)

Ocean Plastics Crash Course:

Short version:

Slightly longer version:

  • There’s a lot of plastic in the ocean. A lot. And we add 8 million metric tonnes a year.
  • If we keep overfishing and putting plastic in the ocean, there could be more plastics than fish by 2050.
  • Most plastic enters the ocean through rivers and watersheds, primarily in Asia. (Where they don’t have the proper infrastructure to handle trash and where we’ve been sending our trash for decades.)
  • There’s a giant swirl of plastics in the middle of the Pacific Ocean called ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’.
  • Most of the plastic in the ocean comes in the form of microplastics, which are tiny pieces of plastic no bigger than a grain of rice (about 5mm).
  • Nearly all seabirds have ingested plastic. Many mammals too. It can kill them.
  • We’ve found ocean plastic in the deepest part of the ocean (a plastic bag at the bottom of the Mariana Trench) and pretty much everywhere else.

Ocean plastic has the potential to dismantle ocean ecosystems from the bottom up.

The Invisible Ocean Ecosystem

Most of the ocean ecosystem is invisible to us and if the tiny creatures die, they affect everything up the food chain. All the way to the orcas.

The Plastic Problem We Don’t Talk About

Ocean plastics could cause entire fish populations to collapse at the larval stage before we have any hope of helping them. This would be devastating ecologically and economically.

Big Fish Eats Little Fish Eats… Plastic.

The ocean plastic pollution problem is so pervasive and so bad we named a species after it.

How Do We Deal With the Ocean Plastic Problem?

1. Stop using single-use plastics

2. Get much better at recycling plastics

3. Clean up the plastic that’s in the ocean

Ocean plastic pollution is a huge problem. It’s overwhelming. And it feels like our actions don’t make a difference. But they do.



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Karina Z

Investigator, innovator, creator. Sharing stories of science and sustainability. Work with me: Explore with me: