Home, plastic home

Some ocean life is moving into floating piles of plastic trash

By Janet Raloff, 15:52 PM July 16, 2013

A mix of microbes seen living on a tiny piece of plastic. It had been floating far at sea in the North Atlantic. The small white bar, 2 micrometers (79 millionths of an inch) long, gives a cue to the size of this plastic bit and its inhabitants. Credit: Zettler et al./ Amer. Chem. Soc./ Env. Sci. & Tech.

We live in an increasingly plastic world. Much of this plastic does not degrade easily. That allows it to pollute the environment. There, a great deal of trashed plastic will break into tinier bits that eventually wash into the ocean. Recently, this debris has begun creating new homes for microbes, research now shows.

Plastic trash in the ocean hosts a diverse world of one-celled organisms, observe Erik Zettler, Tracy Mincer and Linda Amaral-Zettler. The three work at the Woods Hole Ocean...

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