Life on...Plastic?

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As plastic becomes a greater part of the sea, nature tries to adapt. But is this a good thing?

The ocean — a vast mystery, covering 70% of our world’s surface, producing oxygen, and holding the majority of life on Earth.

The depths of the ocean are not the most hospitable habitats for marine life — with high pressures, absent light, and scarce nutrients it can be hard for anything to survive. But the sea floor can reveal unexpected things; from natural life havens in heated water from fissures in the seafloor to whale corpses. A recent discovery found biodiversity in the depths of the ocean has developed unusual habitats...made of plastic!

The South China Sea has become a hot spot for deep-sea pollution, arousing great public concern. With this in mind, researchers used deep-diving submarines to look for plastic. What they found was surprising: these objects were full of life, with 49 different species inhabiting them.

Prominent among them were jellyfish polyps — a stage of the animal’s life cycle in which it is fixed to a surface — and the juveniles of shelled organisms called brachiopods, but the team also found free-living creatures such as deep-sea snails and parasitic flatworms.

Why is this happening? Researchers think it might be because solid objects are scarce on the ocean’s deep-floor. When these objects are available, organisms find them suitable for settling on. 

But is it a good thing or a bad thing that plastic objects are adding to the deep-ocean fauna? Nature’s adaptability to the most adverse conditions is inspiring — but that doesn’t mean plastic belongs in the depths of the ocean. It’s still a problem, even though nature is finding a way to fix it herself.

The world is currently producing nearly hundreds of million tons of plastic each year - and a significant amount will end up in the oceans. Why is this a problem? Not only is this harmful to the environment and the oceans, but it is also harmful to wildlife - injuring and killing fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. It also ends up polluting the human food chain, as the plastic ingested by fish ends up being digested by humans.

It’s easy to feel like a drop in the ocean when it comes to tackling world problems like the excessive amount of plastic in our oceans. Our appeals give you the possibility to support the most effective charitable organizations working to solve this problem from different angles. 

By donating to the Save our Oceans Appeal you’ll support four organizations amongst the most effective in working to tackle this world problem. 

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