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  Our oceans are 'full of plastic'
Updated 07 May 2004, 13.54
Ocean
Humans are throwing away so much rubbish that tiny bits of plastic are collecting in our oceans, say experts.

Human-made rubbish is being dumped near rivers or coastlines, and is slowly broken down as it is carried into seas.

But the bits are being swallowed by small creatures, like barnacles and lugworms, and are building up in them.

It's the first time scientists have looked at plastics gathering in oceans, but they don't yet know what the long-term damage could be on ocean life.

Marine scientists found that the bits of plastic were in sand samples they took from 17 beaches and riverbanks near the coast in the UK.

Marine life (Image: BAS)
Small creatures eat up the plastic bits
They also looked at samples of plankton - tiny organisms that live in the ocean which are usually eaten by fish.

The team found that the plankton contained a lot more of the plastics, compared with samples taken over 40 years ago.

One worry is that the plastics could eventually get into the food that we eat, through plankton and fish.

More research now has to be done to work out what, if any, impact the pollution might have on the environment.

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