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9 Jul 2019 - Tiny plastic particles may also be a vehicle for microbes that sicken or even kill corals, a new study finds.

SCIENTISTS HAVE FOR the first time shown that some wild corals are feeding on tiny shreds of plastic trash. Worse, the animals seem to prefer those ‘microplastics’ over their natural food—even when the plastic is carrying bacteria that can kill them.

The new study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, focused on a temperate species of coral collected off Rhode Island, one that builds small clusters no larger than a human fist. But researchers say the findings suggest that more familiar tropical, reef-building corals may also be consuming—and being harmed by—microplastics, which are defined as bits of plastic waste smaller than a fifth of an inch across.

The new results add to the growing sense that microplastics are ubiquitous in the environment, from tall mountain peaks to the deepest ocean trenches. Many organisms, from fish to birds, have been found to eat small bits of plastic. So do humans, through tainted water and food sources.

PHOTO: ROTJAN LAB

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/these-corals-choose-to-eat-plastic-over-food/

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Publication date: 
09/07/2019
Publication Organisation: 
National Geographic
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