Skip Plastic, Save the Ocean!

Matthew Carroll, Writer

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In the world today, plastic is used for many different things. There is just one problem: where is this plastic ending up? One of the world’s biggest problems is the pollution of plastic in the ocean. If you walk kon a beach today, you will see plastic in plain sight. Marine biologists have conducted many studies in an attempt to figure out how much plastic goes into the ocean each year. Scientists have also tried to come up with machines to clean the plastic out of the ocean; however, there is still more and more plastic being put into the ocean every day. All of this plastic pollution is endangering the organisms that live in the ocean.

 

How much plastic enters the ocean each year? A group of scientists at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis figured out that every year, there are 8 million metric tons of plastic that end up in the ocean. If this doesn’t change over the years, in 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than there are fish. If we keep producing plastics at this rate, plastics will outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050. The plastic is getting into the ocean by households not throwing away their waste and not recycling. Plastic is so light that water and wind push the plastic into sewer lines that end up draining into the ocean.

 

The plastic that enters the ocean is endangering every marine animal. There are studies that demonstrate that plastic has been one of the leading deaths of sea life in the past decade. An article in the New York Times states, “A new study shows that, especially for young turtles, ingesting just a little more than a dozen pieces of plastic in the ocean can be lethal.” Sea turtles are swallowing pieces of plastic and mistaking them for small jellyfish to eat. Scientists have done studies to find out that many sea turtles are swallowing hundreds of these pieces of plastic. Only fourteen pieces of plastic are said to increase their risk of death. Researchers have indicated that more than half of sea turtles worldwide have ingested plastic. However, sea turtles are not the only species being affected. More than 800 species are being affected by trash in the ocean, and 80 percent of this trash is plastic. A senior at Pope John Paul II, David Hobbs, says, “We can all see that there is plastic in plain sight on the beach, so that means there is tons in the ocean affecting the marine life.” As you can see, plastic is affecting and killing most of the animals that live in the ocean. Overall, we need to find a solution to fix this crisis.

 

There are many ways we can stop the pollution of plastic and clean out what’s already in the ocean. One of the main solutions that have come out today is getting rid of plastic straws. An article in the National Geographic states, “In just the U.S. alone, one estimate suggests 500 million straws are used every single day.” Most of these straws end up going into the ocean, polluting the water and killing marine life. Plastic straws are not able to be recycled because the straws are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter. The second solution to cleaning up the plastic already present in the ocean is using a tube, just over 2,000 feet long, to gather all the plastic. The way this tube picks up the plastic is by trapping it. The tube carries a large screen below it to trap the plastic and make it easier for the plastic to be collected. If this tube actually works, it is said to remove more than half the plastic in the ocean in just 5 years.

 

Plastic in the ocean has become an issue that has been affecting the way the sea life lives. More than 800 species are being affected by the pollution. From the sea turtles swallowing the plastic straws to the plastic bags affecting the growth of the plants, there is an extreme amount of damage coming from people being careless with their waste. Overall, there is a crisis of plastic pollution in the ocean. If we do not make a change, the ocean will be filled with plastic, resulting in the deaths of many marine life populations. 

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