Wastewater treatment plants release microplastics into the environment, where they accumulate and pose a threat to wildlife. But by studying the way a manta ray feeds on plankton, scientists have designing a filtration system that captures the tiny fragments without getting clogged. The scientists copied the manta ray system that uses whirlpools and eddies to separate the plankton from seawater.
Class discussion: Can the microscopic bits of plastics released into the water end up in our food? If they pose a threat to wildlife could microplastics also pose a threat to humans? Should we use less plastic in our products and packaging? Is that possible? Why or why not? The new filtration system is just one of the latest products inspired by animals. What other innovations such a sonar or aircraft have been copied from nature?