Far beyond the shore, oceans are dominated by a handful of massive gyres, circular currents that continuously suck debris into their centers. In addition to amassing pieces of floating wood and seaweed, a single gyre can also contain as many as 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic. And mixed amid all that detritus are animals—a collection of crustaceans, cnidarians, sea slugs, snails, and other organisms collectively referred to as neuston. Scientists are now studying the unique adaptations these organisms have for life on the high seas and the roles they may play in open-ocean ecosystems.
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