Ocean Garbage Patch Expands, Breeds Bugs

Ocean Garbage Patch Expands, Breeds Bugs

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The great Pacific garage patch is giving sea striders a place to breed out on the open ocean, changing the natural environment there, new research suggests. The great Pacific garbage patch, known to scientists as the North Pacific Subtropial Gyre, is a large patch of mulched up plastic and other garbage, often said to be the size of Texas, floating in the Pacific Ocean.

Researchers found that the number of pieces of plastic less than 0.2 inches in diameter increased about 100 times over the past 40 years. They also found that these tiny plastic pieces gave sea striders, Halobates sericeus, more room to lay their eggs, leading to much higher densities of the invertebrate in the garbage patch. By giving these insects a place to breed out on the open ocean, the plastic patch is changing the natural environment and could be having an impact on the local food web, said the researchers, who published their work in the journal Biology Letters.

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