In an oceanside laboratory at the Charles Darwin Research Foundation in the Galápagos, Tomas Hannam-Penfold sits bent over a microscope, surrounded by bags of plastic trash scavenged from nearby beaches. He places a small white fragment on the illuminated petri dish and gestures for me to peer through the eyepiece. The piece of plastic is covered with tiny spirals: the egg cases of a type of marine worm.
Plastic trash is already an issue for the Galápagos. Now scientists like Hannam-Penfold are looking at the impact of invasive species floating in on a soda bottle. Although this particular marine worm is already a resident of the islands, he has also found a gooseneck barnacle that has never been reported here. The introduction of any new species, even a microscopic one, is a significant concern in the conservation of the Galápagos and its unique biodiversity.
Around the world, humans produce an estimated
Original Title: Tackling plastic pollution in the Galápagos
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