Since the discovery of the great pacific garbage patch in the late '90s, more and more plastic has gathered in our seas and oceans. So much so that the amount of plastic has increased 100-fold in the last 40 years.
This, in turn, has had a devastating effect on the ocean food chain.
A 2008 study in the journal Environmental Research found that approximately 44 percent of all seabirds have eaten plastic, and nearly 270 marine species are negatively affected by the garbage.
Starting from the smallest particles, microplastics could make up to 30% of today's plastic pollution. These tiny pieces of plastic slowly degrade into microscopic particles and chemical fragments. Microplastics can get stuck in the gills of fish, as well as be mistaken for food particles. These particles get clogged in the animal's stomach, preventing it from digesting as much food. This then results in the death of many fish and sea mammals due to starvation. The ones that do survive are often found to have traces of microplastics and chemicals in their flesh. These particles are absorbed when consumed by the fish, which is then usually consumed by larger fish or even humans.
This chain of plastics and chemicals could quite possibly end up in the food we eat, but without more funding for research, it's hard to know.
One thing is for sure though: plastic doesn't belong in the ocean.