The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and plastic pollution generally, is killing marine life. 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals are affected every year, as well as many other species. For example, turtles often mistake plastic bags for prey such as jellyfish. Plastic waste in the oceans includes the remnants of plastic products that collect in the world’s oceans and accumulate there in various places. According to a study published in early 2015 in the scientific journal Science, about 8 million tonnes of this waste entered the oceans in 2010, with a confidence interval of 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes per year.

How are animals affected by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Plastic waste floating in the oceans is broken down over time by wave action and UV light, whereby an ever higher degree of fineness can be achieved up to pulverisation. At a high degree of fineness, the plastic powder is ingested by various marine organisms, including plankton, instead of or with the usual food. Starting with the plankton, the plastic particles, to which toxic and carcinogenic chemicals such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls may also adhere, rise further and further up the food chain. In this way, the plastic waste with the accumulated toxins also gets into the food intended for human consumption. In the 1980s, however, scientists still assumed that the plastic particles were not relevant to the environment because they were colonised by algae and microorganisms in a similar way to floating seaweed.

How does garbage affect sea animals?

For marine animals, plastic waste is a real poison that kills slowly. Seabirds bite the floating pieces of plastic and mistake them for food. Many also swallow it accidentally. Over time, the plastic residue clogs the birds’ intestines until they can no longer feed. A recent study showed that more than a quarter of seabird deaths were linked to plastic consumption. Turtles unfortunately confuse plastics with the jellyfish they usually feed on. As well as choking them or piercing their intestines, plastic waste can accumulate in the animal’s body and release deadly toxins.

What animals are affected by the Gpgp?

Plants and animals, including anemones, tiny marine bugs, molluscs and crabs, were found on 90% of the debris. Scientists are concerned that plastic may help transport invasive species.

How does the garbage patch affect fish?

In their study published in June 2011 , the two scientists found plastic fragments in 9.2 percent of the fish they dissected. As expected, they found more plastic in the bellies of the fish that migrated to the surface (where floating plastic bits are more common) than those fish that remained in the twilight zone.

How does the Great Pacific Garbage Patch affect sea birds?

Birds not only ingest pieces of trash, they also try to feed them to their chicks. Up to a million sea birds are killed every year from encounters with eating plastic or becoming entangled in it. Zooplanktons can also be killed by choking on the smallest pieces of plastic.

Why is the Pacific garbage patch a problem?

The collection of microplastics on the surface of the ocean can also block sunlight from penetrating the water. This blockage threatens the growth of algae and plankton. If the autotroph communities in the ocean are harmed, the entire marine food web could change!

How does plastic waste affect animals?

Animals can starve when they ingest too much plastic that they can’t digest. When animals ingest plastic waste, it can block their digestive tracts. As a result, they starve. Toxic chemicals in plastic can harm animals’ health—and people can ingest these chemicals as they make their way up the food chain.

How plastic is killing animals?

Fish, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals can become entangled in or ingest plastic debris, causing suffocation, starvation, and drowning.