Plastic Plastic Everywhere

Marine trash, mainly plastic, is killing more than a million seabirds and 100,000 mammals and sea turtles each year. Plastic bags, bottle tops and polystyrene foam coffee cups are often found in the stomachs of dead sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles and others. Some seagulls had an average of 30 pieces of plastic in their stomachs. Some researcers have seen albatross parents fly huge distances to feed their young a deadly diet of plastic bottle caps, lighters and light sticks.

About 250 billion pounds of raw plastic pellets are produced annually worldwide and turned into a tremendous variety of products, from cars and computers to packaging and pens. About 20 percent of the plastic in the oceans comes from ships or offshore platforms; the rest is blown or washed off the land. The amount of plastic particles in the oceans has at least tripled since the 1960s. The effect they have on the marine ecosystems is unknown. Every year we're learning about something bad that's going on in the seas. It's just dawning on people that the oceans are in deep trouble.

Wired June 5, 2004

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