FILE PHOTO: Divers swim above a bed of corals off Malaysia's Tioman island in the South China Sea May 4, 2008. REUTERS/David Loh/File Photo
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Billions of bits of plastic waste are entangled in corals and sickening reefs from Thailand to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, scientists said Thursday.In the Asia-Pacific region a total of 11.1 billion plastic items -- including shopping bags, fishing nets, even diapers and tea-bags -- are ensnared on reefs, the scientists wrote in the journal Science.The plastic increases the likelihood of disease about 20 times, to 89 percent for corals in contact with plastics from four percent in comparable areas with none.Scientists were shocked to find plastic even in remote reefs.The scientists, from the United States, Australia, Thailand, Myanmar, Canada and Indonesia, surveyed 159 reefs from 2011-14 in the Asia-Pacific region.They found most plastic in Indonesia, with about 26 bits per 100 square meters of reef, and least off Australia, which has the strictest waste controls.
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