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Plastics in our Oceans (33) More files...
According to the IUCN, at least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year and make up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. The main sources of marine plastic are land-based, from urban and storm runoff, sewer overflows, beach visitors, inadequate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, construction and illegal dumping.

What happens when marine animals are exposed to these synthetic materials? Mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish can be deadly for hungry sea turtles and entanglement in debris is always a risk. This gallery includes images of animals living with and sometimes suffering from the inflow of plastic trash into their habitat. Nudibranchs lay eggs on bottles, a tiny nautilus rides a piece of a potato chip bag in the ocean current and pilotfish shelter beneath floating trash to protect themselves from hunting seabirds.
Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) trapped in a drifting abandoned net, Mediterranean Sea. (Winner of the One Earth Award, WPY Competition 2010 )
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90800351 Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) trapped in a drifting abandoned net, Mediterranean Sea. (Winner of the One Earth Award, WPY Competition 2010 )© Jordi Chias
Brown paper nautilus (Argonauta hians) juvenile, 1.5cm, riding on a piece of plastic waste. Balayan Bay, Luzon, the Philippines.
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90859666 Brown paper nautilus (Argonauta hians) juvenile, 1.5cm, riding on a piece of plastic waste. Balayan Bay, Luzon, the Philippines.©
Jellyfish and plastic bag, Portugal
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00592057 Jellyfish and plastic bag, Portugal© Paulo de Oliveira/ Biosphoto
Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) entangled in plastic bag, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
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00598199 Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) entangled in plastic bag, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain© Sergio Hanquet/ Biosphoto
Soft coral (Xenia sp) growing on plastic pipe Sulawesi, Indonesia  -  Constantinos Petrinos/ npl
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90149506 Soft coral (Xenia sp) growing on plastic pipe Sulawesi, Indonesia© Constantinos Petrinos / NPL
Coral reef covered with discarded plastic bags. Ambon Bay, Ambon, Maluku Archipelago, Indonesia. Banda Sea, tropical west Pacific Ocean.
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90781294 Coral reef covered with discarded plastic bags. Ambon Bay, Ambon, Maluku Archipelago, Indonesia. Banda Sea, tropical west Pacific Ocean.© Alex Mustard
Dorid nudibranch (Phyllidia ocellata) on discarded plastic bottle, Pulau Dofior, Raja Ampat, Irian Jaya, West Papua, Indonesia, Pacific Ocean
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90781312 Dorid nudibranch (Phyllidia ocellata) on discarded plastic bottle, Pulau Dofior, Raja Ampat, Irian Jaya, West Papua, Indonesia, Pacific Ocean© Franco Banfi
Paper nautilus (Argonauta hians) attaches onto a piece of plastic in open water at night. Anilao, Batangas marine protected area, Luzon, Philippines. Verde Island Passages, Tropical West Pacific Ocean...
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90823370 Paper nautilus (Argonauta hians) attaches onto a piece of plastic in open water at night. Anilao, Batangas marine protected area, Luzon, Philippines. Verde Island Passages, Tropical West Pacific Ocean...© Alex Mustard
Veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) makes its den in an old plastic bottle. Bitung, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Lembeh Strait, Molucca Sea.
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90802271 Veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) makes its den in an old plastic bottle. Bitung, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Lembeh Strait, Molucca Sea.© Alex Mustard
Wolf fangbelly (Petroscirtes lupus) hiding in plastic waste drifting out in the open sea, just below the surface. This is a species of combtooth blenny often found around coral reefs in the western Pa...
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90859662 Wolf fangbelly (Petroscirtes lupus) hiding in plastic waste drifting out in the open sea, just below the surface. This is a species of combtooth blenny often found around coral reefs in the western Pa...©
Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii) entangled in plastic, Chubut, Argentina
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00591122 Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii) entangled in plastic, Chubut, Argentina© Agustin Esmoris
Fish killed by floating debris, Mayotte, Indian Ocean
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00580454 Fish killed by floating debris, Mayotte, Indian Ocean© Sergio Hanquet/ Biosphoto
Jellyfish (Catostylus sp.) swims beneath a slick of plastic debris. Indian Ocean off Sri Lanka.
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90816455 Jellyfish (Catostylus sp.) swims beneath a slick of plastic debris. Indian Ocean off Sri Lanka.© Alex Mustard
Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) entangled in plastic bag, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
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00598201 Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta) entangled in plastic bag, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain© Sergio Hanquet/ Biosphoto
Sponge Crab (Austrodromidia octodentata) with clear plastic over its shell instead of a sponge, Edithburgh, Australia  -  Fred Bavendam
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00151686 Sponge Crab (Austrodromidia octodentata) with clear plastic over its shell instead of a sponge, Edithburgh, Australia© Fred Bavendam
Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) feeding on plastic bag, Caribbean, composite image
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00587982 Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) feeding on plastic bag, Caribbean, composite image© Paulo de Oliveira/ Biosphoto
Cucuyo (Balistes capriscus) hiding in floating plastic, Mayotte, Indian Ocean
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00580457 Cucuyo (Balistes capriscus) hiding in floating plastic, Mayotte, Indian Ocean© Sergio Hanquet/ Biosphoto
Marine plastic pollution, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia
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00586466 Marine plastic pollution, Lesser Sunda Islands, Indonesia© Pete Oxford
Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) trying to eat plastic bag, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain  -  Sergi Garcia Fernandez/ Biosphot
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00549899 Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) trying to eat plastic bag, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain© Sergi Garcia Fernandez/ Biosphoto
Veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) incorporating a piece of plastic bag when making its den. Ambon Bay, Ambon, Maluku Archipelago, Indonesia. Banda Sea, tropical west Pacific Ocean.
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90781296 Veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) incorporating a piece of plastic bag when making its den. Ambon Bay, Ambon, Maluku Archipelago, Indonesia. Banda Sea, tropical west Pacific Ocean.© Alex Mustard
Plastic pollution mixed in with a catch of shore fish. Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.
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90842886 Plastic pollution mixed in with a catch of shore fish. Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.© Alex Mustard
Nudibranch (Tambja gabrielae) crawling on a discarded plastic water bottle, this individual was actually laying its eggs on the far side of the plastic bottle. Ambon Bay, Ambon, Maluku Archipelago, In...
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90787544 Nudibranch (Tambja gabrielae) crawling on a discarded plastic water bottle, this individual was actually laying its eggs on the far side of the plastic bottle. Ambon Bay, Ambon, Maluku Archipelago, In...© Alex Mustard
Globefish (Diodon nicthemerus) surrounded by plastic rubbish such as single use plastic bottles, cups, packaging, labels, waste and woven sacks, Sulawesi, Indonesia. November.
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90813276 Globefish (Diodon nicthemerus) surrounded by plastic rubbish such as single use plastic bottles, cups, packaging, labels, waste and woven sacks, Sulawesi, Indonesia. November.© Jurgen Freund
Two grey triggerfish (Balistes capriscus) fight over a large piece of plastic floating at the surface among sargassum seaweed (Sargassum natans) in the Sargasso Sea, Atlantic Ocean.
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90827566 Two grey triggerfish (Balistes capriscus) fight over a large piece of plastic floating at the surface among sargassum seaweed (Sargassum natans) in the Sargasso Sea, Atlantic Ocean.© Shane Gross
Sargassum swimming crab (Portunus sayi) taking shelter in a plastic bag. Contoy Island, Mexico.
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90828943 Sargassum swimming crab (Portunus sayi) taking shelter in a plastic bag. Contoy Island, Mexico.© Shane Gross
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