A SEA CHANGE TO TACKLE
OCEAN PLASTIC POLLUTION
EXPLORE OUR WORLD
Discover where our partners are working to make an impact for our ocean and learn more about the ocean pollution crisis.Start Exploring
11 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean annually and harm marine species
*amount estimated based on average mass of a pineapple
THE IMPACT OF MARINE LITTER
SpongeBob SquarePants: Operation Sea Change and Ocean Conservancy teamed up to teach you about the impact of ocean plastics on marine life. Plastic pollution comes in many forms and sizes. No matter how big or small the form, plastic pollution impacts all of our sea friends, from the largest whales like Pearl to the most microscopic critters like Plankton.
How does plastic end up in the oceans?
Pieces of fishing gear – much of which is made of plastics – can get cut loose during a storm, floating in the ocean and “ghost fishing” forever.
Things like plastic bags, food wrappers, or bottle caps that litter the beach or waterways that lead to the ocean.
Tiny plastics that either are manufactured to be small (like glitter) or that shed from larger items over time. Broken up by wind, sunshine, and ocean currents, these never completely go away.
How are they harmful to marine life?
Accidental ingestion is common and dangerous. Scientists have documented plastics in more than 1,000 different ocean-dwelling species.
If animals ingest large amounts of plastic, it can block their digestive tracts. Even microplastics cause big problems because plastic has thousands of chemicals that, once inside the animal, can leach into surrounding tissues and harm the creatures.
Marine life can become trapped or entangled by plastics. Fishing gear like nets, lines, and traps can continue to trap animals even after they’ve been lost or abandoned at sea.
Other types of plastic can entangle animals. Six-pack rings are a well-known example, trapping seabirds and turtles by the neck. Animals like hermit crabs, octopuses, and other creatures that find shelter in small nooks and crannies can get trapped in plastic bottles and other trash.