It turns out that corals prefer to eat microplastics - tiny pieces of plastic pollution barely visible to the naked eye - rather than their natural food!
|Clam + Pink Brain Coral, Red Sea 2015.|
A study in 2017, trying to understand why and how microplastics are getting in the marine food chain, found that when coral were offered plastic, sand and bacteria-covered plastic + sand they actually preferred the naked-plastic. They even retained the plastic for longer compared to the other food.
They suspect that some types of plastic contain chemicals which stimulate the corals - which are tiny animals related to jellyfish - to feed. Or in other words, plastic is tasty for corals.
|Sea Fan Corals and Clown Fish, Red Sea 2015.|
Find out what microplastics are here. Find out how the majority of microplastics get into the ocean here. And finally find out how pollution builds up in the food chain here.