Plastic is the most common product on the planet. It is cheap and versatile with properties that make it ideal for many uses. As of this year, about 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually. 236,000 tons from the total number comprises microplastic. Every minute, one garbage truck of plastic is dumped into the water. Because of this, marine life continues to be at risk.
The chemical composition of plastic makes it hard to dissolve. A plastic bag remains around 10-15 years, or even longer. They break into smaller particles which makes it more harmful and burning these materials lead to noxious fumes.
A study by Dutch researchers reports that around 30 plastic bags were found in one seagull’s stomach. Even the smallest marine life such as the plankton has ingested plastic accidentally. In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the mass of plastic is higher than the amount of marine life. Not only does plastic harm sea animals, but they also harm corals. When in contact with the plastic material, their skin gets damaged and infected.
Statistics also show that unfortunately, some animals cannot distinguish plastic from actual food. Because of this, their digestive system gets filled with plastic which they cannot break down in their body, and this allows them to starve and not be able to eat real food. Those who are most affected are sea turtles, seals, and sea lions, seabirds, fish, and whales and dolphins. Materials such as marine debris, albatross, and microplastic are the most obstructive material to these animals.
The solutions to these problems rely on us. Simple things like cleaning up after ourselves and recycling could dramatically increase the lifespan of marine life. Change in lifestyle, such as lessening the use of plastic products when possible could also help not only to marine life but also to the environment in general.