Every single person has a different relationship with the ocean. Some grow up near a beach, visiting the ocean every day, learning how to surf its waves, floating blissfully as it ebbs and flows. Others may be scared of the ocean and the deep feeling of unknowing that comes along with it. Maybe they had a bad experience where they got stung by a jellyfish or stepped on a crab, or maybe they simply don’t like all of the seaweed that tends to float around in it. How ever  you may feel about it, the ocean is very closely linked to our survival as a species. Essentially, if the oceans die, we will follow along shortly after.

Despite the fact that oceans are incredibly important to the well-being of the planet, we are hardly treating it with the respect that it deserves. Instead of making sure it stays pristine and trash-free, we end up filling it with plastic garbage. To be precise, 8.8 million tons of plastic end up dumped in the ocean every single year. While most of us turn to recycling as a solution, research actually shows that 85 percent of the world’s plastic is not recycled. Our plastic problem begins with us, but the damage from it extends to several different species and an estimated 700 marine species are in danger of extinction thanks to plastic. There are marine animals that end up accidentally ingesting it or becoming entangled in it, and there are even land animals who end up interacting with the plastic that washes up ashore, forming a habit that is hardly natural.

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Speaking of things that are unnatural, The Ocean Force One (an airplane that provides aerial views of the ocean) recently returned from a voyage through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with some pretty unsettling images.

From afar, they almost look like jellyfish or other marine species… Upon closer inspection, though, we realize that what we are in fact looking at is plastic. Large, ominous plastic debris that will surely do harm on its long journey through the ocean.  

Plastic

 

 

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One of the scariest aspects of this image, is that they are from an airplane… if they look that big from thousands of feet up in the air, one can only imagine how big they are at ocean-level. This image also makes it much easier to believe the estimations scientists are giving that as early as 2050, there will more plastic than fish in the oceans. While efforts are being made to remove debris from the oceans, improve recycling systems, and innovate barriers to prevent plastic from getting into waterways, we can all take action in our daily lives to stop plastic waste at the source. Humans are the reason there is so much plastic in the ocean, so it our responsibility to #CrushPlastic whenever possible! To learn more about how you can help improve the health of our oceans, click here.

Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.

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Image source: The Ocean Cleanup/Facebook 

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