UPDATE: The “Pacific Garbage Patch” is really a “plastic soup” where the plastic is distributed throughout the water column in area more than twice the size of Texas. See here for more
Marine trash, mainly plastic, is killing more than a million seabirds and 100,000 mammals and sea turtles each year, said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a statement.
Plastic bags, bottle tops and polystyrene foam coffee cups are often found in the stomachs of dead sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles and others. The implications have many at the conference concerned. Last April, Dutch scientists released a report on litter in the North Sea and found that fulmars, a type of seagull, had an average of 30 pieces of plastic in their stomachs.
In the sea, big pieces of plastic look like jellyfish or squid, while small pieces look like fish eggs, says Bill Macdonald, vice president of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, a Long Beach, California-based nonprofit environmental organization.
Macdonald, who is also an underwater filmmaker, said he has seen albatross parents fly huge distances to feed their young a deadly diet of plastic bottle caps, lighters and light sticks.
“The sheer volumes of plastic in oceans are staggering,” he said. In recent years Algalita researchers have sampled a huge area in the middle of the North Pacific, and found six pounds of plastic for every pound of algae.