How Might Plastic Pollution Affect Antarctic Animals?
Antarctica is the least populated place on Earth, but the frozen continent and its surrounding Southern Ocean are still affected by human activities. Scientists have found large pieces of plastic such as fishing nets, and microscopic-sized pieces of plastic, too. Some plastics can be hundreds of times smaller than a grain of sand, and these are called nanoplastics. The Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica, is also warming faster than other oceans and is becoming more acidic. Thus, Antarctic marine animals that have lived in an untouched, stable environment for millions of years are now being exposed to plastic pollution and human-caused climate change. We are studying how Antarctic marine life is coping with plastic pollution in this quickly changing ocean. We focus on Antarctic krill, a small crustacean that supports the Antarctic marine food web. Findings show that krill embryos subjected to ocean acidification and nanoplastics develop less than embryos in ordinary seawater conditions.
Authors: Rowlands, Emily, Galloway, Tamara, Jones-Williams, Kirstie, Manno, Clara ORCID record for Clara Manno