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A Million New Species Discovered...and a lot of Plastic

A Million New Species Discovered...and a lot of Plastic

September 28, 2012 - A team of about 15 scientists on a research sailboat has just completed a two-and-a-half year, 70,000-mile voyage looking at some of the world's smallest, but most important, creatures: plankton.

The microscopic creatures at the bottom of the food chain play an over-sized role in the global ecosystem.

"There are all kinds of microscopic life that do incredibly important functions for managing the planet, ensuring the well-being of the planet, generating the oxygen we breathe, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and generally maintaining this earth in a state that is habitable for us human beings," explains Tara Oceans scientist Chris Bowler.

The Tara team collected samples of sea-water and found, they say, about 1.5 million species of plankton - twice the number previously known to exist.


They found something else too: minute shreds of plastic. In fact, they found more plastic than plankton - especially in the Antarctic.

"We thought that areas like the Antarctic were pristine, being isolated, far away from humanity -- the fact that we found plastic debris down there - in terms of tens of thousands of pieces - is very sad, because this will hang around for thousands of years," says Bowler.

The state of the world's oceans - and the tiniest creatures in it - may determine whether the planet can sustain life for the rest of its creatures, including us.


Sources and more information:

Scientists hunt plankton, find plastic

Tara Oceans project discovers preponderance of plankton - and plastic By Mark Phillips A microscopic image shows a new species of plankton discovered by the Tara Expedition. (Tara Research) (CBS News) LONDON - A team of about 15 scientists on a research sailboat has just completed a two-and-a-half year, 70,000-mile voyage looking at some of the...

Researchers find 1.5 million new plankton species

A 70,000-mile research voyage around the world has led to the discovery of 1.5 million new species of plankton, among other findings. According to The Daily Mail, the findings came from more than 30,000 samples taken across the the Atlantic, Pacific, Southern and Indian oceans as part of a project by Tara Expeditions.


( via cbsnews.com )


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