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Plastics in the Ocean

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An Earth-shaking example of the plastic problem lies in the oceans, literally. Plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean, for example, has reached epidemic proportions as indicated by the cutting edge, powerful research being carried out by the Calfiornia-based organizations Algalita Marine Research Institute and The 5 Gyres Institute.

In 1999, broken degraded pieces of all kinds of plastic on the ocean surface were estimated to outnumber surface plankton in the Central North Pacific by a ratio of 6 to 1 by weight throughout an area about the size of Texas. By 2008, this ratio had increased to 48:1 (plastic to plankton by weight) and has likely increased further since.

The amount of plastic debris in the marine environment is vast and ubiquitous, ranging from the polar regions to the Equator, and seriously affecting wildlife:  At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris - most of which is plastic - including seabirds, turtles, seals, sea lions, whales and fish.

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