What is ocean plastic pollution? 

Plastic pollution is an accumulation of synthetic materials that have made their way into the ocean such as discarded fishing line, clothing items, single use wrapping, cigarette butts, plastic bags and anything else we use that contains plastic. 

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How big is the problem?

171 trillion pieces of plastic are now estimated to be floating in the world’s oceans. 

A recent study found that from 2005 there has been a rapid increase in the mass and abundance of ocean plastic pollution. There is so much ocean plastic that it’s formed a giant marine debris garbage patch in the North Pacific ocean, composed mostly of microplastics. It is estimated to be 1.6 million square kilometers in size, an area twice that of Texas.

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How does ocean plastic pollution harm dolphins?

Dolphins are eating our plastic waste and it’s causing serious health issues. A 2022 study found that of only 25 marine animals examined (including dolphins, seals and turtles) there were a total of 10,639 microplastic fibers detected in their gastrointestinal tracts.

Fishing lines can wrap around dolphins bodies, causing injury or death. It’s particularly concerning when we see juveniles with plastic around them as they are still growing. As plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller particles, chemicals are released which can interfere with marine mammals’ health.

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What is the impact of microplastics?

Most forms of ocean plastic do not biodegrade, but instead just breakdown into smaller and smaller pieces that continue to circulate in our oceans. Another type of small plastic, microbeads, are intentionally made small and are found in our beauty products. 

Microplastics have been found in marine life of all sizes, from plankton to whales. Microplastics are particularly harmful as they are easily ingested by animals and can travel up the food chain.

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Why we should improve dolphins’ ocean home

A healthy ocean is crucial for dolphins to thrive. We advocate for cleaner, safer oceans by raising awareness about the importance of marine conservation, minimising ocean pollution and promoting a plant based diet to mitigate the impact of commercial fishing. Together, we can ensure a sustainable and vibrant home for dolphins.

What steps are being taken to protect ocean life?

In 2022 the United Nations member countries agreed on the first ever treaty to protect the world’s oceans that lie outside national boundaries. The treaty will help achieve the global goal of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, which was agreed at the 2022 UN biodiversity conference.

Through the Clean Seas platform, The UN Environment Programme has convinced 69 countries to date to sign on to a campaign to transform practices and standards around ocean pollution, making it the biggest global coalition devoted to ending marine plastic pollution.