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What Is Ocean Plastic?

By Kristin Hunt

The ocean is home to all kinds of creatures. Striped and spotted fish, chirping dolphins, barking sea lions, and those terrifying great whites. But it’s also home to a ton of plastic trash, and that’s a problem for all the animals that live there.

Ocean plastics are a major concern for environmentalists around the world. But how did this garbage get so out of control, and what can we do about it? We explain the pollution history, growth, and solutions in this comprehensive guide below:

Where does ocean plastic come from? 

According to the National Ocean Service, the vast majority of ocean pollution — a whopping 80 percent — comes from the land. It’s often caused by something called nonpoint source pollution, which occurs when the rain or melting snow picks up garbage on the ground, carrying the runoff into waterways.