Life Finds a Way

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Scientists recently found that marine species normally known to only dwell along the western Pacific Ocean’s coasts have been thriving on plastic garbage in the high seas, USA Today reported.

Their analysis focused on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – also known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre – a collection of floating trash halfway between Hawaii and California.

It’s the largest of at least five garbage islands around the world, weighing around 88,000 tons and containing around 1.8 trillion pieces of trash, including fishing nets, bottles, and microplastics.

A research team collected 105 items of plastic debris in the giant patch and discovered that nearly 71 percent of the floating trash was occupied by more than 480 different marine organisms – 80 percent of which were species found in coastal habitats.

The animals included crustaceans, sea anemones, and worms, as well as creatures already known to live in the open ocean. The team noticed that the faunae had adapted to their strange home and even reproduced.

The findings also showed that the diversity of all creatures was greatest on rope and that fishing nets held the greatest diversity of coastal animals.

While the study shows that life finds a way – even on a gargantuan pile of plastic waste in the middle of the ocean – the authors noted that “these discoveries raise many challenging questions about the future of our oceans in the context of the global plastic pollution crisis.”

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