AUG 27, 2017 05:47 PM PDT

These tiny filter feeders are accumulating microplastics

2 3 326

Giant Larvaceans are small filter feeders in the ocean that trap tiny bits of food in order to survive, but a new study shows that food particles aren't all they're trapping. Plastic waste called microplastics fill our oceans and when the creatures suck in water to find food, they end up sucking in this waste as well.

This is particularly perilous because the microplastics that the organisms ingest bioaccumulate in the fish that then eat the filter feeders and the fish that eat those fish and so on and so forth. Microplastics have also been found in the waste that Larvaceans expel, which includes the mucus "houses" that they construct around their bodies and later abandon.

A study published in Science Advances explained the significance of these findings: "Microplastics readily affix to their [the filter feeders] houses, which have been shown to sink quickly to the seafloor and deliver pulses of carbon to benthic ecosystems. Thus, giant larvaceans can contribute to the vertical flux of microplastics through the rapid sinking of fecal pellets and discarded houses. Larvaceans, and potentially other abundant pelagic filter feeders may thus comprise a novel biological transport mechanism delivering microplastics from surface waters, through the water column, and to the seafloor."
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 02, 2018
Videos
JUL 02, 2018
Watch SpaceX's Dragon Cargo Ship Dock with the International Space Station
Just as expected, SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spaceship docked with the International Space Station on Monday to provide crew members with fresh food, supp
JUL 10, 2018
Videos
JUL 10, 2018
New Tools in the CRISPR Kit
Some diseases are caused by a single gene mutation. Others are far more complex.
JUL 24, 2018
Videos
JUL 24, 2018
Measles are on the Move
Measles is a highly contagious disease that used to be common in young children. Due to the development of vaccines, however, it’s been almost eradic
JUL 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 24, 2018
These Animals Experience Harsher Childbirths Than Humans
You might be quick to think that humans have it hard during childbirth, but compared to a few other species in the animal kingdom, humans actually have it
AUG 02, 2018
Videos
AUG 02, 2018
Pregnancy-Related Deaths High in the United States
Among the industrialized countries, the US has the most maternal deaths, with 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. How can this rate be so high in a countr
AUG 11, 2018
Videos
AUG 11, 2018
Hit The Sweet Spot - MIT's Image Awards
MIT researchers are trying to engineer a smarter insulin.
Loading Comments...