https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2023/07/12/ [login to see] /plastic-is-suffocating-coral-reefs-and-its-not-just-bottles-and-bags Finding new species of fish was the goal when marine biologist Hudson Pinheiro was diving in the Verde Island Passage in the Philippines. And he found them. But while he was down there, he found something else that was deeply troubling: plastic — loads of it smothering the coral reef where the fish were living.
"It's sad," Pinheiro, currently a researcher with the University of São Paulo, told NPR. "It's super, super sad."
Pinheiro expanded his research focus beyond fish to the plastics they live with. Of particular interest to him: The kinds of plastics covering the reefs and how they were impacting the health of the corals and their fish communities.
Researchers have previously found that plastic can not only "suffocate and kill the corals, sponges and other invertebrates," says Pinheiro, but also increase the likelihood of a coral getting a disease by 20 times, according to a 2018 study published in Science.