TAMPA, Fla — If this doesn't illustrate how much plastic is in the ocean, we don't know what will. 

A turtle recovering from a hook-removal surgery at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in South Florida passed more than 100 pieces of plastic in one week.

She had everything from plastic cutlery to large plastic shards in her system.

We hear a lot about limiting the use of plastic straws, but everything from food containers to plastic bags end up in the ocean.

Christian Leon with Suncoast Rise Above Plastics Coalition says, while we live in a society where so much is disposable, our earth and the oceans on it are not.

"At the end of the day, things get thrown away, things aren't permanent, but the plastics have a lasting impact to our health and the environment," Leon said.

While bans on things like plastic straws help, they're only a small part of the ocean trash. Volunteers with the Ocean Conservancy say when they clean up beaches, they find more cigarettes, food wrappers, plastic bottles, plastic bags, and caps and lids. Kinsley McEachern, a USF scientist, says sea turtles eat plastic bottles, beads and bags because they think they're food.


NOAA says there's another threat to marine life that's nearly too small to see: microplastics. They're tiny bits of plastic showing up in the stomachs of everything from dolphins to sea turtles. NOAA scientists say some of that tiny plastic comes from our clothes, and we're sending them to the ocean every time we do laundry. One recent study found about four billion particles of microplastics in Tampa Bay.

"The thing that makes me the most sad is we're causing unnecessary damage to ourselves and the environment around us just because of the habits, throwing things away and not thinking about what happens down the road," Leon said.

RELATED: Turtle passes 100 pieces of plastic while recovering from surgery

RELATED: Florida lawmaker co-sponsors Save our Seas Act 2.0, citing marine debris as a threat

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