Microplastics that find their way into the ocean form clumps with biological particles such as plankton and its faeces. The clumps then sink, carrying the plastics down into deep-sea sediments.
Laboratory simulations performed by a team led by Jan Michels from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, in Germany, show that microplastics coated with a biofilm, such as bacteria and microalgae, create an even stickier surface that allows clumps to form at a rapid rate, sending even more to the depths.
Originally published by Cosmos as Microplastics clump with natural particles
Kelly Wong is the social media manager at The Royal Institution of Australia. She has a Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Allergy and Immunology, Hons Class I.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.