After identifying almost 400 species on plastic retrieved from US waters, experts say the alien invaders may have diseases harmful to humans or threaten existing animals


Harmful creatures are now known to be travelling across oceans, using plastic as rafts

JUNK plastic in the ocean is serving as a raft to carry potentially harmful creatures around the world.

Experts warn the alien invaders may have diseases harmful to humans or threaten existing animals.

Almost 400 species have been identified in North America after travelling 5,000 miles from Japan.

They include fish, starfish, mussels, crabs, clams, oysters, sponges and sea anemones.

Some had survived seven years at sea after scrambling on to plastic washed away in the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

In other cases they had mated multiple times during the journey, with the fifth generation making landfall.

Prof Jim Carlton, from Williams College, Connecticut, said animals previously travelled on wood, which sank after two or three years.

But they are now “rafting across the ocean” on plastic, which can last much longer and travel further.

He added: “The stuff washed into the ocean from land, floated near shore for a while, then colonised.