This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Sunday Rest: plastisphere. Word Not To Use Today.

It's just the sound of it that's horrible.

Plastisphere. So what's that? A garden cloche, a futuristic building, or something a hamster uses for exercise?

Actually the plastisphere is bigger than any of those. In fact in some ways it's a whole world.

We have Dr Mincer and Dr Amaral-Zettler to thank for the discovery of the plastisphere - and also to blame, I fear, for the word.

The plastisphere is made up of all the plastic debris in the oceans. This discarded stuff is sometimes fatal to turtles and sea birds, but if you're small, really small, bacteria-sized maybe, then it's home. Sea creatures which rely on sunlight to make their food love it because instead of having to swim like crazy to stop themselves sinking into the dark depths they can hitch a lift on a handy bottle or food tray.

There are creatures in the plastisphere who eat these tiny sunlight-using creatures, and creatures who eat them. There are even creatures which appear to be eating the plastic itself, which is very useful and tidy of them.

Altogether the plastisphere is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

It's just the name...

Word Not To Use Today: plastisphere. This word appeared in July 2013 in a paper by Dr Mincer and Dr Amaral-Zettler. Plastikos is Greek, and comes from plassein, to form. 


  1. That's a whole new ecosystem.
    It definitely deserves a much classier name!

    1. I suppose the problem is that most ecosystems don't have special names - we say tropical rain forest, for instance, not troparborisphere, thank heavens.

      Perhaps sea junk? And then you have two meanings of junk to play with. I quite like that.

    2. That is much better!
      Or even sea mysteries!