According to new research, a greater threat to the ocean’s sea life could be deadly bacteria that sticks to plastic under water. It is feared that these clusters are being mistaken for food.

Researchers have discovered that a glue-like substance is secreted from this bacteria, which then sticks to other plastic. As well as being mistaken for food, these clusters could be disrupting the flow of food down to deep sea creatures.

Experiments have been conducted at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Within minutes, the minuscule pieces of plastic grouped together with bacteria, algae and other organic particles to form larger clumps – shocking the team at how quickly large clusters were formed under water.

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Nanoplastics pose a growing concern in oceans and other aquatic habitats 

Speaking with The Independent, researcher Stephen Summers said: “This is a first step towards understanding how nanoplastics interact with natural biopolymers throughout the world’s oceans. The fact that these agglomerates become large enough to see raises concern, as they are likely to be seen as a food source by small marine animals.”