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News Picks : Microplastics in the ocean are disrupting oyster reproduction

By: Physics Today
11 February 2016
Nature: Because plastics are cheap, durable, and ubiquitous, millions of tons of them are ending up in the world’s oceans. Through degradation and collisions, the plastics break up into micrometer-sized particles. Recently, researchers looked at the potential effects of those microparticles on Pacific oysters, which are an important food source for people. The researchers found that because the particles are similar in size to the phytoplankton the oysters eat, they readily ingest the particles. More important, the oysters that consumed the plastic particles produced fewer and less-robust offspring. Further study is needed to determine whether other marine species, such as mussels or sea cucumbers, are similarly affected.

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