Is floating debris a big part of ocean ecosystems?



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    Natural floating debris is a part of ocean and coastal ecosystems and consists largely of driftwood. Driftwood can offer birds a resting spot. Also, some fish like the Pacific herring, lay their eggs in floating driftwood. It also provides a hiding place for small young fish such as the chinook salmon. On land, driftwood helps anchor sand dunes as well as provide food and shelter to plants, birds and coastal animals.

    Unnaturally floating debris is also becoming a part of ocean ecosystems, but its effect is often less positive. The most common effects are the ingestion or entanglement of animals in debris. It can also damage reef systems and carry dangerous invasive species to new areas. Floating debris is a dangerous threat to ocean ecosystems as well as to human fishing and recreational use of the ocean.

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