Deep-ocean plastic is a haven for life

Date: February 6, 2021

Source: The Economist

The ocean deep, where pressure is high, light absent and nutrients scarce, is often seen as a desert. But, as with other deserts, it has oases. Hydrothermal vents, methane-gas seeps and whale corpses are hot spots for marine wildlife. And observations reported in Environmental Science and Technology Letters by Song Xikun of Xiamen University, in Fujian, and Peng Xiaotong of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ campus at Sanya, in Hainan, suggest these natural loci of biodiversity are now being joined by unnatural ones made of plastic.

Carried down slopes by submarine landslips, plastic objects accumulate in patches in the deep. Dr Song and Dr Peng had seen pictures showing sponges, corals and anemones on or near these accumulations. This led them to wonder about their ecology. So they went to have a look.

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