In the North Pacific 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic are consumed by fish which can cause injury or death, as well as be transferred up the food chain. One fourth of all fish caught in the California fish markets have been had plastic in their guts.
For birds the impact is a little different. They accidentally consume plastic, or feed it to their chicks which ultimately takes up capacity in their stomachs causing them to eat less and eventually starve. It is believed that about 60% of all species of seabird have ingested plastic, by 2050 this number is expected to reach 99%.
For larger marine life plastic pollution impacts them in much the same way as it does other marine life. One, it can ensnare them causing injury and strangulation. Two, it can be ingested causing injury, illness, and death. The plastic also can be ingested inadvertently by consuming other marine life that has eaten plastic. In this way plastic concentration in marine life compounds as it goes up the food chain.
Plastic Pollution doesn't just harm marine life, but also has a negative impact on land animals too. In a lot of the ways plastic impacts marine life it also impacts life on land. Plastic pollution is abundant and while land animals might be less likely to get tangled in plastic, except birds, animals are still getting stuck in buckets. Land animals are also accidentally consuming plastic and in a similar way to marine life this causes illness, death, and plastic concentrations being passed up the food chain.
Let us not forget plastic can is also be harmful to the environment and humans too. Hope is not lost. People need to come together and stop plastic pollution. Conscientiously avoid single use plastic packaging. Use reusable alternatives to plastic like metal water bottles. Make sure to properly dispose of plastic that you do use. Helping reduce the amount of outgoing plastic pollution is one step, the other is making concentrated clean up efforts. Doing these two things can reduce plastic waste and have a positive impact on the planet and its inhabitants.
For an opportunity to take action follow this link to a petition to protect wildlife from plastic pollution: https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/
For stories of individual animals that have been negatively impacted by plastic pollution follow this link: http://www.prijatelji-zivotinja.hr/index.en.php?id=934