Plastic as Food for Marine Animals
According to scientists from Ghent University in Belgium, the average European seafood consumer consumes 11,000 microplastics per year. These pieces with a size of less than 1 mm come from cosmetics or are created by the degradation of older plastics. Although not yet confirmed, the presence of these microplastics may endanger the safety of the food consumed.
We have to take into account that fish is not only a part of our diet. Human demand and greed is reducing fish populations year after year, and plastic pollution is like adding gasoline to a fire at this point.
Why do fish eat plastic?
Every year, several million tons of plastic waste is added to the oceans. Many packages break down into small fragments that fish mistake for plankton and unwittingly consume. In some parts of the ocean, according to National Geographic, there are several times more plastic than plankton. Their stomachs can’t digest plastic, so they either die or end up on our plates.
This problem also affects turtles. They rely on their sight to find food. When choosing food, they are guided primarily by their sight. For this reason, it is difficult for them to distinguish a plastic bag from food. According to one study, they “prefer” translucent objects that are easily mistaken for jellyfish. In 7 out of 16 cases, plastic is found in their stomachs.
Not all marine animals use sight and smell to find food. For example, dolphins hunt using echolocation. Echolocation is extremely sensitive. It occurs when sound bounces off an object to the point of transmission where it is captured. That is why it happens that various plastic objects end up in the stomachs of dolphins and whales.
About the Author
Sarah Gáliková is a Slovak girl with a passion for writing interesting articles and photography. She studied Economics and business, however her true affection is English language. Sarah’s free time mostly consists of nature, great books and a camera.