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About 99 Percent of the Ocean’s Plastic Has Disappeared. Where It’s Ending Up Should Scare All of Us

‘From water bottles to the microbeads in our face wash, we send millions of tons of plastic into the ocean every year. Not only does it amount to $13 billion in damages to the environment, but it costs the lives of the marine animals that end up choking on our garbage. A new study has found even grimmer news: About 99 percent of the ocean’s plastic is missing, and there’s a chance that a large amount is ending up on our dinner plates.

The study, published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reported data collected from all major ocean gyres in 2010 and 2011. When researchers used mesh nets to determine how much plastic the garbage patches have, they didn’t find as much trash as expected.

“We can’t account for 99 percent of the plastic that we have in the ocean,” lead researcher Carlos Duarte told Science. “There is potential for this plastic to enter the global ocean food web.… And we are part of [it].”

According to Duarte, there’s a good chance that marine wildlife is eating the ocean’s plastic, which could look like fish food after waves and sunlight break it down into tiny pieces.’

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