Deep-sea plastic dump hosts biodiverse marine communities

Date: January 26, 2021

Source: Chemical & Engineering News
Author: Lakshmi Supriya

At the bottom of the ocean, marine organisms have found a new home: our discarded plastics. Plastic items collected from trenches as deep as 3,200 m in the South China Sea host a diverse group of animals including corals, mollusks, and worms (Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2021, DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00967). Although previous studies have found animals colonizing objects in shallow waters or near coasts, this is the first time such a large number of species have been discovered on a deep-sea plastic dump, raising questions on how such waste heaps affect the deep-sea ecosystem in their vicinity.

Plastic litter is ubiquitous on most beaches and can often be seen riding the waves. But plastic bottles, bags, and other trash can also be weighed down by accumulated sand and other sediments, which makes them sink to the seafloor.

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