Floating Junk Creating New Marine Ecosystem

Researchers say the "plastisphere" — marine ecosystems of floating trash — may provide platforms for pathogens and leach dangerous chemicals into the water.

 
Pete Matamoros, 81, walks near the Colorado River under U.S. Highway 183 at the Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary in Austin, picking up trash as a form of exercise.

Pete Matamoros, 81, walks near the Colorado River under U.S. Highway 183 at the Colorado River Wildlife Sanctuary in Austin, picking up trash as a form of exercise. Spencer Selvidge

According to the Los Angeles Times, the environmental effects of the so-called plastisphere "are only beginning to be understood." The term refers to discarded trash that reaches the ocean and is creating a marine ecosystem. Researchers have theorized that floating junk may provide platforms for pathogens and that the plastisphere may break down and leach dangerous chemicals into the ocean.

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