Antarctic krill are grinding microplastics into nanoplastics—something never seen before in a planktonic crustacean.
Researchers from Griffith University in Queensland fed Antarctic krill a diet of microplastics and algae and found they used their stomachs and gastric mills to digest the microplastic bead, making it up to 94 per cent smaller.
Lead researcher Amanda Dawson says it’s not yet clear how damaging this could be to an ecosystem. On one hand, creating nanoplastics in the stomachs of krill may increase the chance of toxic effects to the crustaceans and to their predators. But on the other hand, accelerating the breakdown of plastics may shorten the lifecycle of plastic particles.