Read the full story in Scientific American.
Plastics floating in a massive “garbage patch” in the Pacific Ocean are home to strange new mixes of coastal and marine species that might increase the odds of biological invasions wreaking havoc on nearby ecosystems.
Scientists have long known that critters such as worms, crustaceans and mollusks could make their home on plastic debris. Animals have even crossed the Pacific Ocean on these makeshift rafts after a devastating tsunami struck Japan in 2011. But new research published on April 17 in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution adds two details that could be concerning for existing ecosystems. First, it finds that plastic is providing a home for coastal species to thrive in the open ocean thousands of miles from shore. Second, some of these species are reproducing despite the alien environment.