Some species are named after beloved teen activists or Lady Gaga. Others are named after plastic. Before science even discovered this deep-sea crustacean, plastic had infiltrated its stomach. So scientists named it accordingly. Meet Eurythenes plasticus.
This newly discovered species lives some 22,637 feet underwater in the depths of the Mariana Trench. It’s a shrimp-like creature, and researchers have so far found only one of these crustaceans with plastic inside its stomach. This was still concerning enough, however, that the team decided to incorporate “plastic” into the species’ name. This is the inaugural moment plastic joined the taxonomic ranks of biological classification.
“We decided on the name Eurythenes plasticus as we wanted to highlight the fact that we need to take immediate action to stop the deluge of plastic waste into our oceans,” said Alan Jamieson, the head of the research mission to discover the species, in a World Wildlife Fund statement.
One amphipod specimen was found with a microfibre 0.65 millimetres long. Analysts determined that the microfibre was likely polyethylene terephthalate, which can be found in polyester clothing and water bottles. Plastics are taking over, man. They’ve been found on mountaintops, in oceans, and even in the Arctic. That’s because of all the plastic we humans consume and eventually discard.
Plastic pollution is seemingly impossible to avoid, studies have found. A recent paper found that just opening a plastic bottle can throw microplastics into the air. Wearing polyester clothing helps spread microplastics around, too. It’s an unfortunate reality, and the natural world is having a tough time escaping this manmade mess.
With only one crustacean found with plastic, the species still has a chance of staying plastic-free at large, if humans can find a way to end our addiction to plastic.