Coastal marine life found living on ocean trash

Plastic waste in the world’s oceans is affecting marine life in new and unusual ways, researchers recently reported.

A group of American and Canadian scientists have discovered that certain species live on a large area of ​​plastic garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean.

The team discovered animals such as ocean barnacles and crabs living alongside barnacles and coastal anemones.

Linsey Haram of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center was lead writer on the report that recently appeared in the publication Nature Communications.

“We expected to find ocean sailors species who have adapted on plastics, but we were…surprised to find coastal marine species as well,” Haram said.

It is unclear how some of the coastal marine life ended up in the ocean, Haram added.

“They may already be out there settling on the plastics, but they’re most likely … being transported from the coast on floating debris,” she told VOA.

Debris is another term for waste.

The study focused on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California. The patch, or area, covers more than 1.5 million square kilometers. Most of it is plastic waste.

The debris includes large amounts of very small pieces of plastic, as well as water bottles, toothbrushes and fishing gear. The waste is collected in circular ocean streams called gyres.

Plastics can float like this for years.

Amy Uhrin is chief scientist for the Marine Debris Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington.

The size of the patch can change depending on wind and ocean currents, Uhrin told VOA.

The Ocean Voyages Institute of Sausalito, California is a non-profit group working to remove waste from the ocean. He gave the researchers the debris needed for the study.

Ocean Voyages president Mary Crowley said a large vessel with special equipment was extracting tons of trash from the area. She said the effort is particularly aimed at eliminating “highly harmful items like plastic fishing nets that still catch and kill whales, dolphins and turtles.”

Ocean Voyages Institute in Sausalito, California works to clean up trash in the ocean.

The researchers were surprised by what they found.

“What was most telling was that coastal marine species were not only prosperous but by reproducing,” Haram said.

However, many questions are still unanswered.

“How do you survive on a piece of plastic in the middle of the ocean? asks Greg Ruiz of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and report writer.

“Coastal species can create their own ecosystem on plastic debris,” Ruiz said. Fish and bird waste in the water can provide food.

“We also want to understand how coastal and oceanic species interact as they compete for limited space on objects,” Haram said. “They could be used as a food source.”

There are also concerns that some of these creatures could become invasive species.

“We want to know if other coastal marine species are on plastics in the world’s five major ocean gyres,” Haram said.

Ruiz added: “We are concerned that coastal organisms from different regions could form colonies and spread diseases to other marine species, including fish.

I am John Russell.

VOA News reported this story. John Russell adapted it for Learn English.

________________________________________________

words in this story

garbage — n. things that are no longer needed or wanted and have been thrown away

species – nm biology: a group of animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants: a group of related animals or plants that is smaller than a genus

adapt – v. to change your behavior so that it is easier to live in a particular place or situation

prosper – v. grow or develop successfully: thrive or succeed

Comments are closed.