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POSTED ON MAY 14, 2014 BY MIRIAM GOLDSTEIN

The scariest inhabitant of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not what
you think

When you think of terrifying monsters that might inhabit the Great
Pacific Garbage Patch, what do you think of? Mutant sharks? Pissed-off
squid? Rabid barnacles? (Well, ok, probably not rabid barnacles.)

Nope. The scariest inhabitant of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is this.

Meet Halofolliculina. It is a single-celled organism ? a ciliate ? about
the size of a sesame seed with teeny tiny devil horns. (They are
actually pericytostomial wings, not devil horns, but I won?t tell if you
don?t.) My collaborators Hank Carson and Marcus Eriksen found these
little buggers living on plastic debris floating way offshore in the
western Pacific, which wouldn?t be terrifying in itself since a lot of
strange critters live on plastic debris (see our paper for a complete
list). But Halofolliculina is a pathogen that causes skeletal eroding
band disease in corals, and this piece of debris was headed towards Hawaii.


The scariest inhabitant of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not what you think

16. Juli 2014