Plastic is problematic for a number of reasons, as animals can become entangled, choke on, or ingest it. If they swallow the plastic, they can't digest it, and it takes up all of the room in their stomach causing them to eventually starve to death. Additionally, the chemicals that went into making the plastic can leach out, having devastating effects on marine life.
As SciShow host Hank Green explains, getting rid of the plastic isn't as easy as using a big net to scoop it out in the same way you'd use a pool skimmer to collect unwanted leaves. Small marine life may also be collected when the plastic is removed, which could have massive ripple effects on the ecosystem that are worse than the plastic.
But, that doesn't mean scientists are sitting by idly and pretending the problem doesn't exist. There are programs currently being developed that could potentially make a big impact on the health of our oceans.
Learn what we're doing to address the plastic problem here:
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