Plankton eating plastic caught on video for first time. Then we eat it too :-)

plankton eat plastic
Planton eat plastic. Courtesy: NewScientist
What you see in this amazing video all takes place inside of one drop of water: for the first time, plankton have been filmed eating plastic. This is part of the story of how people end up eating plastic too. Microscopic plankton eat even smaller fluorescent particles of plastic that fill up their digestive systems. Sometimes the particles stay in their system for days, making survival and reproduction difficult for them. When they get eaten by bigger sea life, the plastic gets lodged in those creature’s intestines and then they get eaten too. Eventually, people eat sea life that contains plastic, so we end up eating it too.

Where does all that plastic come from?

Cosmetic and healthcare products that have a scrubbing quality like exfoliating soaps and toothpaste use plastic microbeads that wash into drains and out to large bodies of water. Natural products could be used, but they mostly aren’t.

Then, there’s the island of plastic debris floating in our oceans – tons of the stuff – that breaks into tinier and tinier particles as pieces are hit by the sun and jostle against each other, and then against rocks and sand as they move around the ocean waters. Plastic breaks into tiny pieces but doesn’t disappear, and now we know that plankton eat it.

Hat tip to Theresa Lam for the share!

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