Plastic Ocean


Plastic is wonderful because it's durable

and plastic is terrible because it is


Almost every piece of plastic ever made

is still on the planet in some form or another.

Plastic production globally this year

is expected to be more than 300 million tons. Half of which we'll use just once

and then throw away.

By 2050, when the population explodes to almost

10 billion people, it's expected that

plastic production will triple.

The problem with that is is that today only

a fraction of the plastic that we

produce is recycled. The rest ends up in

our environment and it's coating our

lands and our oceans like a disease.


Garbage thrown away in the United States

can make its way to Antarctica.

Plastic in our coastal waters is pulled into the

center of massive wind-driven turning

circular GYRES. There are many other

ocean currents also diverting the trash

all around the surface of the ocean.

In reality, it's just one ocean with no boundaries.


Lord Howe Island is a world heritage site,

and home to migratory seabirds like

the Shearwater. Seabirds are incredibly

helpful because they act like an army of

scientists. They travel thousands of

miles across the ocean. They pick up

plastic off the surface of the ocean.

They bring it back to their rookeries

where they feed it to their

chicks and that provides an incredible

amount of scientific data in terms of

where the plastic comes from,

its distribution and how it breaks up on the ocean surface.

Dr. Jennifer Lavers,

she devoted her life to studying the plight of seabirds.

Shearwaters are incredible birds,

they migrate thousands of miles

stopping only here to breed.


Dr. Jennifer Lavers: Yeah, the stomach it's very, very full and

if we look here there's some very dark pieces

some very light white pieces, and

if you see, you know, as I push on this,

it's absolutely rigid, completely

completely full of plastic all the way up,

Assistant: Oh, look at that!

Dr. Jennifer Lavis: Absolutely no doubt,

that this bird died as a result of that plastic,

that is literally a gut full of plastic

It's quite alarming, isn't it?

Assistant: It's awful.

Dr. Jennifer Lavis: A range of plastic types and colors

got everything from the blues and the reds.

Assistant: The stomach's just filled with it big pieces, too

Dr. Jennifer Lavis: Big sharp pieces

Assistant: Oh wow, look at the size of that big black peice.

Dr. Jennifer Lavis: That is an enormous piece of plastic

Assistant: Unbelievable! Look at the size of that


Assistant: Jen, I counted 234 pieces of plastics

out of that one bird. Is that a record?

Dr. Jennifer Lavis: Not even close, unfortunately,

so for the species, the record is 276

pieces of plastic inside of one 90-day

old chick, That plastic's weighed out,

accounted for 15% of that bird's body mass,

So that's a pretty scary statistic.

If we translate that into human terms,

it gets even worse that would be equivalent

to you and I, having somewhere around six

or eight kilos of plastic inside of your stomach.

It's equivalent to about

twelve pizzas, worth of food inside of your stomach.

Dr. Jennifer Lavis: It's quite a bit of plastic for just one little bird.

The parents were trying to do the

right thing, there's a lot of

squid beaks in here and there's a purple

color, evidence of the squid ink.

It's just a shame that every now and then

they they got it wrong and got it wrong

in a bad way.

Really, it's quite an overwhelming thing.

I do have some pretty rough days, have to

go home, and really wrap my mind around

where do we go from here.

Peter Thomson: As a Pacific Islander, I know that the ocean is in

deep trouble. The very authoritative

prediction shows that by the year 2050,

there will be as much plastic as there

is fish in the ocean by weight.


Peter Thomson: Every country uses plastic. We need to

start rationalizing that we need to

think about reusing of plastic, single-use plastic.

It's got to be on its way out,

and you know, plastic shopping bags are a

good example of that your family does,

not need to use them. Take a...a cloth bag

with you when you go shopping and put

your shopping in there.


Peter Thomson: There's an equivalent of a large garbage

truck every minute of every day backing

up to the ocean and just dumping plastic into it.

We really have to look at

ourselves and say: "Do we deserve this

beautiful ocean that was given to us?"