Ocean Plastic Pollution
 

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Plastic is in every part of the ocean, threatening marine wildlife from seabirds to sea turtles.

Scientists estimate up to 90% of seabirds, like this Laysan albatross, have plastic in their stomachs.


The Plastic Pollution Cycle

Plastic is one of the most common materials in our daily lives. We eat and drink from it, buy stuff packaged in it, and even wear clothes made of it. But what happens when it’s no longer useful to us?

If current practices continue, plastic input into the ocean is expected to double by 2025

Since plastic doesn't break down naturally, things that had a useful life of just a few minutes can pollute our ocean for hundreds of years. Some plastic starts out tiny; others begin large, but slowly become smaller and smaller pieces. Plastic bags, cosmetic microbeads and other types of plastic trash have spread throughout the ocean—from the surface to the deepest submarine canyons. Plastic debris is also washing back onto our shores, leaving a mess for our children to clean up.



This makes plastic pollution a major threat to marine wildlife like fish, turtles, seabirds and whales. Not only do animals get tangled in plastic trash like six-pack rings, plastic bags and abandoned fishing nets; they also mistakenly fill their stomachs with plastic instead of food.

Plastic or food? The contents of this tube—which includes a lighter, disposable pencil, cigar tip, plastic bottle cap and fishing lure—came from the stomach of an albatross.

Plastic is made with toxic chemicals such as bisphenol-A, styrene and phthalates. Worse, plastic trash in the ocean acts like a sponge, soaking up pollutants and pesticides from the surrounding seawater. When marine animals eat plastic, they ingest these poisonous cocktails, too. The toxins can concentrate through the food web. Monterey Bay Aquarium researchers and other scientists are only beginning to explore the impacts on ocean wildlife and ecosystems. In the meantime, we’re working to stop the flow of plastic from land to sea.

Luckily, we can take action. By changing policies and our own habits, we can slow the flow of plastic pollution.


What You Can Do

With your help, we can make progress toward a plastic-free ocean.

Raise your voice

Elect leaders who commit to take climate action. Tell candidates for public office—from your city council to United States president—that climate change is important to you. They will listen.

Urge elected officials to take action on climate change. Call, write or tweet your representatives. Ask them to reduce carbon emissions, protect marine habitats, and help us adapt to the changes in motion.

Encourage climate-friendly practices at work and in your community. Start a "green team" at work. Spark a conversation about climate action on social media. Invest in a community solar garden. Recommend a book on climate change at book club. Think creatively—the possibilities are endless!


Join the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Overfishing, pollution and climate change have put the ocean in a precarious position, endangering not just marine life but all life on Earth. But, together, we can turn the tide if we act now. Your support will help us creative positive change for the ocean and the animals that call it home—not just today, but for generations to come.

Donate today

Raise your voice

Elect leaders who commit to take climate action. Tell candidates for public office—from your city council to United States president—that climate change is important to you. They will listen.

Urge elected officials to take action on climate change. Call, write or tweet your representatives. Ask them to reduce carbon emissions, protect marine habitats, and help us adapt to the changes in motion.

Encourage climate-friendly practices at work and in your community. Start a "green team" at work. Spark a conversation about climate action on social media. Invest in a community solar garden. Recommend a book on climate change at book club. Think creatively—the possibilities are endless!


Join the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Overfishing, pollution and climate change have put the ocean in a precarious position, endangering not just marine life but all life on Earth. But, together, we can turn the tide if we act now. Your support will help us creative positive change for the ocean and the animals that call it home—not just today, but for generations to come.

Donate today
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