The sheer volume of plastics dumped, trickled or escaped into our oceans is seen as a major global problem, threatening biodiversity, injuring or killing vulnerable marine animals, and even harming human health.
Now, new research shows life can bloom even in the direst of places: coastal plants and animals are actually colonising floating plastic debris in the open ocean.
The study, published in Nature Communications, describes findings of coastal flora and fauna thriving afloat on plastic garbage hundreds of kilometres out to sea in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, more commonly known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’. It proves once again – in case we needed reminding – that nature is a crafty and adaptable beast.
But the discovery doesn’t write off the wrongs of plastic pollution, nor does it bode well for marine ecosystems.