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  1. ITV Report

'Plastic soup' ending up on our dinner plates

On the eve of World Oceans Day, fears abound that too much damage has already been done to marine life by the scourge of plastic in the oceans.

And it is not just marine life which is being affected, microplastics are ending up in us too.

There are an estimated 270,000 tonnes of plastic waste floating on our oceans, creating a "plastic soup" and killing an estimated 100,000 sea creatures each year.

Many turtles eat plastic bags and wrappers, after mistaking them for jellyfish.

Brands whose plastics were most frequently collected from beaches by the Archipelagos Institute for Marine Conservation. The bigger the word, the more items found. Credit: Archipelagos Institute for Marine Conservation

The problem is becoming so severe that scientists from the Archelon Sea Rescue Centre in Greece have opened up a gallery displaying all the plastic they have collected from inside marine species, many of who died.

And it is not just large plastic items which are harmful.

There are growing concerns over hidden microplastics that are ingested by marine species that are rapidly making their way into the food chain.

These microplastics and chemicals are eaten by fish, and eventually by us when we eat them.

The plastics are widely used in industrial processes and consumer products, such as waterproof finishes on clothing, and have been linked to issues with reproduction and development in animals.

Plastic found in the digestive system of dead loggerhead sea turtles. Credit: Archipelagos Institute for Marine Conservation

In areas such as the Aegean Sea in Greece, scientists fear it may already be too late to reverse the damage.

On the island of Samos, scientists from the says Archipelagos Institute for Marine Conservation say they have found "microplastics" and harmful chemicals in the majority of their water samples taken from the sea.

A bird mistakenly tries to feed its chicks a piece of rubbish. Credit: Archipelagos Institute for Marine Conservation

Elissa Mastroianni, a student volunteer at the organisation, told ITV News that "every fish that I've checked has had heaps of microplastics inside them, so it's pretty much guaranteed that they'll [other fish] contain some form of plastic".

Scientists have described the oceans as 'plastic soup'. Credit: Archipelagos Institute for Marine Conservation

While it is hoped that by highlighting the issue of plastic in the seas - through initiatives such as World Oceans Day - consumers will better understand the need to cut down on single-use plastics and recycle more, there are fears that it is too late for us to escape the damage which has already been done.

Plastic in the oceans kills an estimated 100,000 sea creatures each year. Credit: Archipelagos Institute for Marine Conservation