Pollution is one of the major threats for the environment. There are different types, but when it comes to the oceans, plastic is definitely affecting the entire ecosystem. However, researchers might have discovered something that will solve this problem for good.
Krill are the solution
Krill are small crustaceans that are placed somewhere at the bottom of the food chain. However, they might be more important than you could imagine. A new study analysed krill, and researchers discovered that these small creatures could be able to digest micro plastics, and transform them to nanoplastics.
However, scientists are not sure yet whether nanoplastics will be dangerous. There is a slight chance that they might cause health problems by ending up in cells, so more research is needed. There are also other questions. For example, researchers have to discover if smaller species would be affected by this change, since they will become able to ingest nanoplastic as well.
In order to make this discovery, the research team placed combined algal foods and microplastics. Then they placed the krill and waited to see how it would be digested by them. They tried two different approaches, one with more algae and one with more microplastic.
They discovered that krill are the ones that can advance the break down of plastics in the oceans. During the study, the scientists discovered that the efficiency of the krill went down when they consumed more plastic.
The study is an important one and this discovery could change the planet. However, scientists need to explore this even more. “The phenomena of digestive fragmentation has never before been reported in other planktonic crustaceans despite the facts that many possess similar gastric mills and mouthparts designed for mechanical disruptions,” concluded lead researcher, Dr Amanda Dawson.