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plastic is not fantastic

Study estimates trillions of pieces of plastic in oceans

Researchers estimate that an astounding 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic weighing 269,000 tons can be found floating in all of the world's oceans.

Their study was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One. To determine the amount of trash, researchers went on ships and collected small pieces of plastic with nets, and then used computer models. Discarded fishing nets and buoys accounted for the largest source of plastic by weight, but they also found massive amounts of bottles, toys, bags, and other debris. One thing that surprised the team was that they found only one-hundredth of as many tiny particles of plastic as expected, which suggests that the smaller pieces wind up deeper in the ocean or are consumed by fish and other marine organisms, who then absorb the toxins and pass them along to predators when eaten.

This is all very alarming to scientists. "It is evident that there is too much plastic in the ocean," Andrés Cózare, a researcher who headed a separate study, told The New York Times. "The current model of management of plastic materials is [economically and ecologically] unsustainable."