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Close-up shot of sea surface with small waves
The Constellation of Creatures Inhabiting the Ocean Surface
The myriad species floating atop the world’s seas, called neuston, are mysterious and understudied, complicating efforts to clean up plastic pollution.
The Constellation of Creatures Inhabiting the Ocean Surface
The Constellation of Creatures Inhabiting the Ocean Surface

The myriad species floating atop the world’s seas, called neuston, are mysterious and understudied, complicating efforts to clean up plastic pollution.

The myriad species floating atop the world’s seas, called neuston, are mysterious and understudied, complicating efforts to clean up plastic pollution.

ocean pollution
Neuston
Slideshow: Meet the Neuston, the Diverse Organisms Living at the Ocean’s Surface
Amanda Heidt | Jan 2, 2023 | 2 min read
The ocean’s surface harbors an ecosystem of colorful, understudied life, ranging from protists and cnidarians to insects.
Illustration showing where neuston reside
Infographic: Neuston Drift Atop the World’s Oceans
Amanda Heidt | Jan 2, 2023 | 1 min read
The sea surface is home to a diverse group of animals adapted to life in the open ocean, but increasingly, they’re sharing that space with plastic debris.
Close-up of a fiber with brightly colored pathogens beside it
Microplastics in Seawater May Harbor Parasites
Christie Wilcox, PhD | Apr 26, 2022 | 2 min read
Laboratory experiments find that Toxoplasma, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia can congregate on microplastic beads and fibers, suggesting they might make their way into and around the world’s oceans by hitching rides on tiny bits of trash.
Photograph showing plastic waste polluting the beach
Book Excerpt from Thicker Than Water
Erica Cirino | Oct 1, 2021 | 4 min read
In Chapter 5, "Pick Up the Pieces," author Erica Cirino investigates the potential health risks of the small plastic particles that permeate the planet.
Problem plastic bottles and microplastics floating in the open ocean
Opinion: Plastic Pollution May Endanger Brains
Erica Cirino | Oct 1, 2021 | 3 min read
Plastic waste pervades every ecosystem on Earth and is likely affecting neurobiology as well.
Image of the Day: Plastic Nests
Amy Schleunes | Mar 3, 2020 | 1 min read
Seabirds in Norway use fishing debris to construct nests.
Two orcas underwater
Long-Banned Pollutants Will Decimate Orcas: Study
Shawna Williams | Sep 28, 2018 | 2 min read
PCBs persist in the environment and accumulate in killer whales, driving their numbers down.
two manatees at the ocean floor
Mutated Gene Could Raise Marine Mammals’ Vulnerability to Pesticides
Shawna Williams | Aug 10, 2018 | 1 min read
The resulting lost protein, PON1, breaks down organophosphates in land mammals.
Life Scientists Cut Down on Plastic Waste
Katarina Zimmer | Aug 1, 2018 | 8 min read
Across the US, laboratories are finding creative ways to minimize the amount of plastic they throw away.  
cod hanging to dry above snow next to the sea
Just 13 Percent of Ocean Is Wilderness: Study
Shawna Williams | Jul 26, 2018 | 1 min read
An analysis of 15 types of stressors finds humans are heavily affecting most sea areas.
Deepwater Coral Reefs Unlikely to Welcome Shallow-Water Animals
Sukanya Charuchandra | Jul 20, 2018 | 2 min read
Historically thought to be a refuge for coral growing in the shallows, coral reefs from oceanic depths face similar threats, finds a new study.
What's a Good Consumer To Do?
Bob Grant | Jul 1, 2018 | 3 min read
In a world beset by climate change, marine pollution, and dwindling natural resources, a member of the mushrooming human population pauses to consider his role.
Image of the Day: Plastic Feast
The Scientist Staff and The Scientist Staff | Oct 30, 2017 | 1 min read
New research suggests that plastic might just “taste good” to hard corals.
Plastic Pollutants Pervade Water and Land
Ee Ling Ng | Jun 1, 2017 | 10+ min read
Contamination of marine and terrestrial ecosystems by microplastics is putting individual organisms at risk.
Infographic: Plastic Pollution
Ee Ling Ng | May 31, 2017 | 1 min read
Both macroplastic items, such as bags, bottles, and other packaging, and products containing micro- and nanoplastic particles—from cosmetics to paints—contaminate the Earth’s ecosystems.
Behavior Brief
Ben Andrew Henry | Dec 22, 2016 | 4 min read
A round-up of recent discoveries in behavior research
An Ocean of Plastic
Jef Akst | Dec 15, 2014 | 2 min read
A new study surveys the extent of the plastic problem in the world’s oceans, estimating more than 5 trillion pieces weighing nearly 250,000 tons.
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