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The Invisible Threat: How Microplastics Endanger Corals

Vanessa Bednarz, Miguel Leal, Eric Béraud, Joana Ferreira Marques,
Published: 7 May 2021
Frontiers for Young Minds , Volume 9; doi:10.3389/frym.2021.574637

Abstract: Coral reefs are one of the most endangered habitats due to climate change, but not enough attention has been paid to how plastic pollution affects coral reef health. Plastics are massively produced worldwide for many purposes and they degrade very slowly, breaking down into tiny, invisible particles of 5 mm or less, called microplastics. When these tiny particles reach coral reefs, they harm corals by constantly rubbing on them through the action of waves and currents. Corals may also ingest microplastics and get a false sense of “fullness,” which results in the coral not feeding on nutritious food. Within the coral, microplastics may block the gut and cause internal damage. Also, microplastics, which are already made of chemicals, can pick up pollutants and harmful microorganisms from the seawater and transfer them to the coral. A reduction of microplastics pollution is therefore urgent.
Keywords: microplastics / Coral reefs / microorganisms / Endanger / tiny / invisible / harm

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