Microplastics Are Destroying Fish Larvae In Record Numbers

UPPSALA UNIVERSITY. Scientists have made a discovery that fish larvae eat tiny plastic particles when growing in favour of their natural food sources. The study found that these plastic-loving larvae had different behaviours, stunted growth, and a shorter life expectancy compared to normal fish. It’s previously been reported that plastic is “like junk food” for fish.

Led by Oona Lonnstedt, marine biologist at Uppsala, the research study shows how fish worldwide are dying out due to plastic pollution. Prior research has usually focused on fully grown adult fish, however the finding that even larvae enjoy eating plastic is worrying.

It’s been found that these fish are less likely to hatch, and if they do, a myriad of ailments awaits them. The most concerning behaviour noted in these fish was their lack of interest in activity. Most of the fish remained more or less dormant throughout their lives. Also, these fish were found to lack the instincts that detect predators, making them easy prey in the ocean.

The most concerning discovery isn’t that these fish had no other food source, or were trapped in the plastic; quite the contrary. It was found that when the larvae had a choice between eating natural, healthy food, and plastic particles, they chose the plastic. According to Professor Eklov, head of the study, there is a need for greater biodegradable goods if the problem of diminishing fish populations due to microplastic consumption is to averted.

It was found that the larvae favored plastic particles that are less than 1 millimeter thick. The most common sources of microplastics come from cosmetics and industrial manufacturing. Bigger plastics too, when they break down, are turned into microplastic, and therefore all forms of plastic may eventually be a threat to fish larvae.

Source: Science Daily

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