In disturbing but interesting find, plastic island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean now has its own ecosystem, findings show published in the journal Nature Communications.
Scientists believe the island is twice the size of Texas and can now sustain life, with multiple life forms hooked on plastic and even procreating on the island.
Typically, these types of communities, known as neo-pelagic communities, form on natural rafts like seeds, trees, algae, etc. but these communities are short lived because natural rafts are biodegradable. However, plastic is not biodegradable, or at least it won’t degrade as quickly as a natural raft would.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was discovered in 1997 and is caused by ocean currents that swirl in a vortex, bringing all the trash and plastic from the ocean into one place. In 2018, it was estimated that 79,000 metric tonnes of plastic made up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
The question is how a long term residence on the Plastic Island will affect the future of these types of communities and the species that inhabit them. These species include mussels, barnacles, shrimp-like amphipods, crabs, etc., which are generally species inhabiting the coast or near the coast.
What is interesting is that the animals in this plot breed, which indicates a more permanent rather than a transitory residence.
With the world now more globalized than ever, it is easy for species to be transported across the world with occasional invasive effects. With the increase of plastic in the world’s oceans, it is reasonable to know how these plastic habitats will affect the survival of these uniquely coastal species in the ocean.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t the only one of its kind, it’s one of many, but it’s the biggest. Coastal species now have to adapt to plastic life on the seas, like pirates, and there are many questions about what changes will result in the species’ behavior or even its physical characteristics.
The presence of any litter stain in the ocean is a worrying and increasingly standardized trend, as are many aspects of climate change, and many efforts have been proposed to clean up these stains.
Now that they are home to lives, it raises more questions about how the presence of so much garbage, especially plastic, in the world’s oceans will continue to change from how people know them today. .