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Microplastics Found In The Stomachs Of Deep-Sea Sharks

Microplastics Found In The Stomachs Of Deep-Sea Sharks

In the digestive system of four species of deep-sea sharks living off the coast of Great Britain, oceanologists have found large amounts of microparticles of plastic, according to the scientific journal Scientific Reports.

"We have received the first evidence that many sharks that live in the bottom areas of the ocean have microplastic particles and anthropogenic fibers in their bodies. The latter surprised us especially since we did not expect to find synthetic filaments in the stomachs of so many fish, " said one of the authors of the study, an oceanologist from the University of Exeter (UK) Christian Parton.

Every year, approximately 300 million tons of plastic waste enters wastewater and landfills around the world. Most of it cannot be decomposed by soil microbes, so this garbage remains almost untouched for tens or even hundreds of years. When it enters The world's oceans, it is collected in huge clusters, similar to the so-called Great Pacific garbage patch.

Therefore, the last half-century is often called the plastic period by ecologists and oceanologists. As scientists ' observations show, these particles do not stay in the water for a long time: they are eaten by marine fauna. As Canadian researchers found out two years ago, every year a person on average swallows from 40 to 60 thousand microparticles of plastic.

Parton and his colleagues found that this also applies to deep-sea Atlantic sharks, which live far away from both garbage spots and the coast where the largest cities in the UK and other European countries are located.

Underwater traces of humanity

This discovery was made by scientists conducting a kind of census of bottom sharks that live in the North-Eastern part of the Atlantic. To do this, scientists asked anglers from Cornwall, who worked in the Celtic sea and in other North-Eastern areas of the Atlantic ocean, to bring them sharks that accidentally fall into the net.

In total, the fishermen handed over 46 sharks of four deep-sea species to oceanologists: common catsharks (Scyliorhinus canicula), catrans (Squalus acanthias), star marten sharks (Mustelus asterias) and star catsharks (Scyliorhinus Stellaris). Oceanologists have studied their health in detail and checked the contents of their stomachs to find out what they eat.

Much to the researchers ' surprise, it turned out that the digestive system of more than half of the fish studied, 67%, was full of particles of microplastics, synthetic cellulose and other fibers that usually enter the water along with the drains of washing machines and the textile industry.

As Parton and his colleagues suggest, these fibers and granules of plastic could get into the body of sharks both directly and together with the flesh of bottom shellfish that they feed on. Plastic debris that enters the ocean along with river water or sewage slowly settles to the bottom and can accumulate in the body of invertebrates living there.

While scientists cannot estimate the extent to which these particles are dangerous for the health of the fish. However, they assume that these particles should leave their body unhindered and not accumulate in it. Follow-up observations, the researchers conclude, will help them check whether this is actually the case.

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