Sea Coral Has Started Eating Plastic and Now Scientists Know Why

15. Consumption of Plastic Epidemic

Image: Futurity.org

Something is happening to our planet’s marine life. As more plastic is dumped into our oceans, the creatures of the sea have begun to consume it at a record rate. Even worse, our coral reefs are beginning to devour it, which could be lethal for our world’s oceans and ecosystem. Why has the coral begun to eat plastic? Well, a new study has the answer and it may surprise you.

14.  The Many Ecosystems of Our Planet

Image: Science Daily

Whether it’s the frozen tundra of Siberia or the deepest oceans, our planet is made up of diverse ecosystems beyond our wildest comprehension. Unfortunately, these ecosystems are under constant threat from humans, whose nature to pollute and destroy is putting many life forms at risk.

You won’t believe how many species go extinct on a yearly basis.

13. Disappearing Forever

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According to recent studies, due to industrialization and pollution being pumped into our atmosphere and oceans, the species of our planet are under serious threat. In fact, it’s estimated that over 2,000 species go extinct every single year.

Some of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet, are the ones that exist in our oceans.

12. The Future of Coral Reefs

Image: Time

Coral reefs are most at risk in today’s environment. While they may only occupy a small space of our ocean, they support over 25% of all marine life. You wouldn’t believe it, but there are thousands of different species of fish, bacteria and crustaceans living in the coral reefs around the world.

Sadly, you won’t believe what’s happening to them.

11. The Death of Our Ocean’s Coral

Image: Daily Express

A recent report by the World Resources Institute has sadly confirmed that our ocean’s ecosystems are dying off at a rapid pace. It’s believed that 75% of our ocean’s coral reefs are endangered. This is expected to be at 100% by the year 2050.

So what is happening to threaten the coral reefs?

10. Many Different Factors

Image: Outdoored

There are many things contributing to the endangerment of our planet’s coral reefs. Tourism, over-fishing, development and climate change are just a few of the factors killing off our planet’s coral.

However, a new study at James Cook University has revealed some shocking new information.

9. Coral & Plastic Consumption

Image: Inhabitat

Researchers were able to determine that coral polyps, which are the organisms that form coral reefs, were consuming tiny pieces of plastic in high amounts. Unfortunately, these plastic pieces were becoming lodged in the coral’s tissue rather than properly passed via the digestive process.

Unfortunately, this could be a death wish.

8. The End of Coral as We Know It

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The study further revealed that if coral continued to consume plastic, it could lead to starvation. With coral being so fragile and needing a proper amount of nutrients to survive, the lack of a normal diet could start to kill off the coral.

But why would coral want to eat such a harmful substance?

7. Not By Accident

Image: Business Insider

When researchers first discovered that corals were ingesting plastics, they thought it was by mistake. However, in 2017 scientists revealed that it was possible the newer plastics being produced were just too delicious for the corals to resist.

Is it possible that plastic had a good flavor?

6. Duke University Case Study

Image: Architectural Digest

Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina decided to put the tasty plastic theory to a test. They placed both plastic particles and sand particles into a saltwater tank with coral. Right off the bat, the corals rejected the sand. However, you won’t believe what they did with the plastic!

5. Plastic: The New Coral Diet

Image: TreeHugger

In the study’s findings it was revealed that the corals consumed up to 80 percent of the plastic placed in the tank, regardless of the variety. As for the sand, it was mostly ignored.

What could be so tasty that coral couldn’t resist the plastic?

4. The Truth About Additives

Image: Method

One researcher named Alexander Seymour determined that the hundreds of additives in plastic were working as a stimulant that attracted the coral. Known as a “phagostimulant” it made the plastic impossible to resist.

3. Not the Most Nutritious Diet

Image: Inhabitat

Unfortunately, this type of diet is putting coral at risk. While some plastic particles were expelled after six hours, for some corals it took over 24 hours after becoming severely embedded in the coral tissue.

2. Fragile Ecosystems Are At Risk

Image: Collective Evolution

The risk plastic poses to our ecosystems is very high. It’s estimated that over eight million tons of plastic is being dumped into our oceans every single year. A huge portion of this debris has turned into an island of garbage that floats in the Pacific Ocean.

Pretty gross, right?

1. Do Your Part

Image: HaAS

It’s important to realize that coral reefs aren’t the only ecosystems at risk here. The most trash we dump into our oceans and on our lands, the greater the possibility we are killing off another species. In order to do our part, recycling is a must. It’s time to put an end to plastic and save the ecosystems we have left before they disappear forever.

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