Plasticrust: A new form of pollution found on rocks along coastlines

  • Living
  • Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Fragments seen in the rocks are mostly made of polyethylene, a family of plastic used for the manufacture of many everyday objects. — AFP

You're on a beach, contemplating the rocks along the coastline. No seaweed or periwinkle moss can be seen on the sea bluffs, but there is a strange blue-tinted layer, which doesn’t resemble any living species. And for good reason: it is in fact plastic fragments rejected by the oceans, then embedded in the rocks. The word “plasticrust” refers to a new form of pollution, first identified in 2016 by Portuguese biologists. We take a closer look at the term and the phenomenon.

This upsetting discovery was made in 2016 by Portuguese scientists from Lisbon’s Center for Environmental and Marine Sciences (MARE), during an expedition to the island of Madeira, located southwest of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean. Upon their return to the capital, the researchers decided to investigate these fragments more closely. They returned to the island of Madeira several times between 2017 and 2019 and observed that this new form of pollution was widespread.

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