Plastic trash linked to disease in corals, says study

Plastic trash linked to disease in corals, says study

Plastic trapped in reefs around the world is having a serious impact on coral health, according to a new study.

She began collecting this data as a doctoral candidate at James Cook University in Australia. This is significant given that 4.8 million to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste are estimated to enter the ocean in a single year, Lamb said. Stress caused by the presence of plastic debris also makes it more hard for corals to fight off pathogens.

A recent study took a look at 100,000 reefs in the Asia-Pacific oceans and found that 11 billion pieces of plastic were choking the fragile reefs.

For the study, an worldwide team of scientists examined more than 150 reefs in the Asia-Pacific region between 2011 and 2014, finding plastic on a third of them.

More than 11 billion plastics are now putting coral reefs across the Asia-Pacific at risk of becoming diseased and destroying the habitat of millions of fish species, the research said.

Plastic was found in a third of the coral reefs surveyed. And according to the the team at Cornell University in the US, over a third of the 159 coral reefs they surveyed was contaminated with plastic.

While it might not be immediately clear how this pollution epidemic affects us here on land, our economy relies on those reefs considerably.

Those animals dependant on the coral reefs for food and protection are also at risk, researchers say.

They are vital to fisheries and coastal management and are now at risk due to global warming, which boosts diseases and can cause coral to bleach and die.

"We examined more than 120,000 corals, both plastic-free and with plastic present, on 159 reefs from Indonesia, Australia, Myanmar and Thailand", said lead researcher Joleah Lamb, a postdoctoral research fellow at Cornell University in NY.

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The new discovery comes at a time of increased awareness of plastic pollution.

Scientists have discovered how plastics hike the likelihood of corals being infected by disease by a factor of 20.

26 de enero de 2018, 00:16Canberra, Jan 26 (Prensa Latina) Scientists from an global team warned in a study published today that the contact of corals with plastic waste increases the chances of these organisms contracting diseases.

"It's really sad", she said.

But Lamb found a different environment in Southeast Asia, home to some of the world's most diverse and attractive coral reefs.

Joleah Lamb is a research fellow at Cornell University.

However, he noted that while plastic could present an extra challenge and may be linked with an increase in disease risk, this study does not show that plastics are carrying pathogens into the reefs.

"We know that plastics are widespread in the ocean, and it's no surprise to me that corals are encountering them", said Professor Richard Thompson, a marine biologist at the University of Plymouth who was not involved in the study.

One coral blight that does appear to be exacerbated by plastic is skeletal eroding band disease.

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