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Coastal species inhabiting the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the middle of the ocean

Coastal species are thriving in patches of garbage and plastic in the middle of the ocean, researchers say in a new study.

When studying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, scientists found coastal species in more than 70% of the debris, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. There was even evidence that they reproduced their plastic at home.

The discovery of coastal species living in the middle of the ocean is not unprecedented, but researchers say the diversity and frequency of coastal species is new.

“Our results show that marine environments and floating plastic habitats are clearly inhospitable to coastal species. Coastal species with an array of life history traits can survive in the open ocean, reproduce, and have complex population and community structures,” the study’s authors wrote. “The plastosphere may now provide tremendous new opportunities for coastal species to expand populations in the open ocean and become a permanent part of pelagic communities, fundamentally altering marine communities and ecosystem processes in these environments, with potential implications for species dispersal and biogeography at broad spatial scales.” “

The researchers studied the species found on 105 fossils collected between November 2018 and January 2019. Debris includes fishing nets, ropes and bottles.

About two-thirds of the wrecks studied were habitats for both coastal and open-ocean species.

More plastic is expected to enter the ocean in the coming years. recent Research has warned Without urgent policy intervention the rate at which plastic waste enters the ocean will increase by about 2.6 times between now and 2040.

Concerns are growing about plastic pollution related to the pandemic

A seagull stands next to a discarded surgical gown in a trash pit at Recology on April 2, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Where is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there isn’t actually a big garbage dump. Debris is concentrated in different areas. Winds and waves constantly move debris around in the Pacific between Hawaii and California.

How big is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

In 2018 researchers estimated that there were at least 79,000 tons of plastic inside the patch. Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit, has More than thousands of pounds of debris were removed From the year. The patch is made up of both large pieces of debris and microplastics.

How was the Great Pacific Garbage Patch formed?

Garbage patch When gyres — rotating ocean currents — form, they pull debris into place, according to NOAA. There are five gyres across the entire ocean.

Are there other garbage patches in the ocean?

Although the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the most famous, it is not the only one. Two gyres in the Pacific Ocean, two in the Atlantic Ocean, and one in the Indian Ocean create debris patches.

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Aliza Chasan

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