Microplastic Pollution: Fish Eats Plastic, Ignores Its Natural Food Source

First Posted: Jun 04, 2016 08:21 AM EDT

Researchers from Uppsala University have discovered that larval fish were exposed to microplastic particles. They ate the tiny plastic and disregarded their natural food source. This causes them to changed behaviors and curtailed their growth which leads to an increased risk of possible death.

Science Daily reports that the study was printed in Science. The study was led by Oona Lonnstedt, a marine biologist and the lead author of the study, Professor Peter Eklov, the co-author the study and other scholars. The researchers found out that fish has loomed with microplastic pollution.

Lonnstedt explained that fish reared in different concentrations of microplastic particles have lessened hatching rates and exhibit abnormal behaviors. He further said that the microplastic particle levels tested in the current study are the same to what is found in many coastal habitats in Sweden and elsewhere in the world today.

Furthermore, he said that larvae that were subjected to microplastic particles were much less active than fish that had been reared in water that contained no microplastic particles. The fish that were exposed to microplastic particles disregard the smell of predators which usually induce innate antipredator behaviors in naïve fish.

Meanwhile, Professor Eklov said that this is the first time an animal has been found to favorably feed on plastic particles and is cause for concern. The effect of this condition could be consequences for the renewal and the sustainability of fish populations. This calls for the need for new management strategies or alternative biodegradable products that lessen the release of microplastic waste products.

The microplastics are tiny plastic particles in the environment which measure about less than 1mm (0.039 in) down to the micrometer range. These come from various sources such as clothing, cosmetics and industrial processes. There are two types of microplastic namely the primary microplastics and the secondary microplastics.

The primary microplastics are produced and the direct result of human material and product use. On the other hand, the secondary microplastics come from the breakdown of bigger plastic debris such as the macroscopic parts that comprise of the Great Pacific Garbage. Both classifications are visible in the environment at high levels specifically in aquatic and marine ecosystems.

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