PSA Shows Life in a Sea of Plastic

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Recent research is shedding light on the disturbing state of our planet's oceans and the incredible amount of waste that has collected at sea, but sometimes a shocking video is more helpful in advancing the urgency of the problem. In this animated PSA produced for The Surfrider Foundation's project Rise Above Plastics, the message is clear: "Plastics kill 1.5 million marine animals each year."

Sure, the video's portrayal of the ocean being impassably cluttered with plastic waste may be a bit hyperbolic, but for the ocean life killed by the world's refuse washed at sea, it couldn't be more appropriate.Plastic waste has become so widespread throughout the world's oceans that there are 46 thousand pieces of plastic in every 2.5 square kilometers of ocean surface, according to the United Nations. Much of this plastic is mistaken for food and ingested by marine life, like fish, turtles, whales, and birds.

According to Jornal A Tribuna, six years ago, a Minke whale was found dead in Normandy, France, with 800 pounds of plastic bags in its stomach. Birds have also been seen trying to feed bits of plastic to their young, believing it to be food.

While large pieces of waste could hypothetically be collected in an attempt to clean the ocean, the real problem lies in the granule remnants of degraded plastics--which is often mistaken for food by smaller animals. Once ingested, the plastic can remain inside the digestive tract of fish, birds, and turtles for 10 to 15 months, making it more difficult to absorb nutrients from real food.

So many of the problems facing the world's oceans can be traced back to improper waste management, and increasing awareness about its impact on sea life could be capable of slowing the trends--and sometimes a 30-second PSA is just the thing to catch people's attention.