Evidence building for microplastics damage

Sthenelais boa with injested plastics
Sthenelais boa with ingested plastics
Harpinia shrimp with ingested microplastic particlesHarpinia shrimp with ingested microplastic particlesHarpinia shrimp with ingested microplastic particles
Harpinia shrimp with ingested microplastic particles

Ecology consultancy Thomson Ecology has published images showing the scale of the microplastics problem and the way that these plastics are entering our food chain.

The samples that have been collected from British waters clearly show creatures, including a shrimp, covered in blue microplastic particles. The microplastic particles are approximately 0.02 mm long.

Phil Aldous, Director of Water Services at Thomson Ecology said: “The presence of plastic in the oceans is a major concern, especially as it accumulates in the food chain. When analysing the diversity and abundance of invertebrate animals in our sediment samples, we are often asked to record the presence and nature of plastic fragments. Usually we encounter two types –   small fragments of items such as fishing nets or waste, and microbeads that are also found in toothpaste and cosmetic scrubs.  These images clearly show the scale of the problem.

“Each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans. These particles are found at the sea surface, on shorelines and on the sea bed, and can be found even in the remotest areas of the globe.  Once microplastics are in the environment they are impossible to get rid of, so preventing the release of plastics into our waterways and oceans should be a matter of priority. If we continue polluting our oceans with plastic at this rate, by 2050 the oceans will contain more plastic – by weight – than fish.”

“The UK Government has announced it is planning to bring forward legislation to ban the sale and manufacture of microplastics in the UK. This move, if established, would lead other countries across Europe and the rest of the world to follow suit.  This is not just an issue affecting the food chain, as can clearly be seen from some of the other images. If the early life stages of any species are affected and this translates into increased mortality, the effects on aquatic ecosystems could be far-reaching, long-lasting and profound.”

It is said that each year, 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans.

By Jake Frith

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