To Corals, Plastic Might Taste Like Food

2017-11-03T10:08:49+00:00 November 3, 2017|
The researchers at the University of Bristol state that limiting the global warming could buy some more time for tropical coral reefs. (Photo : Reuters)

(Click to enlarge)  (Photo : Reuters)

Sea turtles spot plastic bags and mistake them for jellyfish. Birds get entwined in plastic and choke to death. Corals, it turns out, could be even worse off—to them, some of the chemicals in plastic might taste like food.

(From PBS / by Allison Eck) — These particles get stuck in corals and could disrupt their digestive process. Many different chemicals make their way into the manufacturing of plastic, so it’s unsurprising that at least a few of them might remind corals of a nasty treat.

Here’s Veronique Greenwood, reporting for The New York Times:

“In their experiment, the researchers offered corals collected from North Carolina’s coastal waters two different kinds of plastic to see what would be more popular: older plastic, weathered in seawater and covered with a thin layer of bacteria, or plastic fresh from the factory. The corals seemed to prefer the newer plastic, ingesting more of it than the older shards.

The difference between the consumption of new and old plastic could come down to the concentrations of additive chemicals. Perhaps the microbes on weathered plastic kept those added compounds from reaching the corals as swiftly. Or maybe the microbes produced substances that kept the corals from eating them as quickly.”

Read the full story here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/nature/to-corals-plastic-might-taste-like-food/