Plastic in oceans killing corals

Plastic in oceans killing corals

Plastic in oceans killing corals

"We examined more than 120,000 corals, both plastic-free and with plastic present, on 159 reefs from Indonesia, Australia, Myanmar and Thailand", said lead researcher Joleah Lamb, a postdoctoral research fellow at Cornell University in NY.

"We found that the chance of disease increased from four per cent to 89 per cent when corals are in contact with plastic", Lamb said.

Furthermore, the authors also predict that the number of plastic items entangled in coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific could increase to a staggering 15.7 billion by 2025. Small cuts and abrasions caused by this plastic allow pathogens to enter the coral and sicken it.

Coral reefs are under assault by a growing threat: tons of floating plastic dumped into oceans by humans.

More than 11 billion pieces of plastic are stuck in coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific region, according to an alarming new study. The researchers think helping countries in Southeast Asia reduce the amount of plastic garbage going into the ocean could improve the health of coral reefs. Indonesia was found to be the worst offender, with the coral in Australia suffering the least - possibly due to Australia's intense clean-up and disposal efforts.

As scientists from the United States, Australia, Thailand, Myanmar, Canada and Indonesia surveyed 159 reefs over a three-year period they were left shocked by the way plastic was polluting even the most remote areas. A 2017 study found that 83% of tap water samples taken around the world contained plastic pollutants.

"Little things we can do in our daily lives can have a huge impact when looked at collectively", co-author Lisa Kelly from James Cook University, in Australia, told Futurism.

Trash may damage the tiny coral animals that build reefs, making them more vulnerable to illness.

Globally, more than 275 million people live within 30 km of coral reefs, relying on them for food, coastal protection, tourism income, and cultural value. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) - a very common plastic used in children's toys, building materials like pipes, and many other products - have been found carrying a family of bacteria called Rhodobacterales, which are associated with a suite of coral diseases.

For the study, an worldwide team of scientists examined more than 150 reefs in the Asia-Pacific region between 2011 and 2014, finding plastic on a third of them. Secondly, plastic also blocks sunlight from reaching the corals, which can also pose a long-term threat.

However, he noted that while plastic could present an extra challenge and may be linked with an increase in disease risk, this study does not show that plastics are carrying pathogens into the reefs.

The good news, the authors say, is that everyone can help tackle the problem through small changes in their lifestyle, such as reducing the use of plastic packaging or single-use plastic items.

Now marine scientists have discovered that it's killing coral reefs.

Journal Reference: Joleah B. Lamb et al.

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