Corals mistake microplastics for plankton

A recent study in Australia has found that corals from the Great Barrier Reef are eating microplastics present in seawater. The study also concludes that the ingestion of high concentration of plastic debris could potentially impair the health corals, as their small stomach-cavities become full of indigestible plastic.

Scientists have not yet been clear about the long-term effects of the ingestion of microplastics. Corals’ stomachs have lately evolved to deal with natural particles like detritus or metals, but it has not been proved that corals are able to get rid of plastic from their bodies.

The study also emphasized the poor understanding of the impact of microplastics on marine ecosystems and, as the researchers assured, the next step consists on determining the effects that plastic has on coral physiology and health, as well as on other marine organisms.

Learn more at:

– Great Barrier Reef corals eat plastic on Science Daily
– Microplastic ingestion by scleractinian corals on Marine Biology
Advanced Aquarist

 

Photo by: Mia Hoogenboom