(Mirror Daily, United States) – Recent research has shown that baby fish are most likely to feed on plastic particles in the oceans, process which is comparable to teenagers eating junk food.
Young fish feeding on plastic has severe consequences, such as stunted growth and changing behaviors. A team of researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden found that because of high exposure to polystyrene concentrations larval perch prefer plastic over their natural source of food consisting of zooplankton.
This abnormality causes young perch to be more vulnerable to predation, smaller and slower. According to Oona Lönnstedt, marine biologist, and lead author, hatching rates were reduced, and fish started to have unusual behaviors.
A high level of microplastic particles was found in Sweden’s many coastal habitats as well as in most parts of the world. Plus, the statistics showed that larvae that consumed plastic waste remained less active that those swimming in waters that do not have microplastic particles.
Worse, they ignored the smell of predators, becoming more likely to be eaten by other fish. During the study, the baby fish exposed to plastic were eaten four times more quickly than control fish. Scientists called for banning plastic cosmetics microbeads, which might represent a primary source for plastic particles.
These microplastic waste materials accumulate in high rates in shallow coasts after traveling through waterways and lakes and eventually reaching the oceans. Lönnstedt underline that the effects of this plastic waste are deadly as the mortality rate in fish has already increased.
According to a study from 2015, about 8 million tons of plastic waste is dumped or reaches the oceans each year. Thus, microscopic fragments pile up in the guts of fish and other marine animals causing a real toxic and chemical plague in the water ecosystem.
Plastic microbeads in cosmetics have already been banned by the United States. Furthermore, U.S. prompted the United Kingdom and other European countries to do the same thing. Plus, these microbeads are regarded among the most significant forms of plastic pollutions which causes a $13 billion loss every year consisting in environmental damages.
All in all, our best bet would be to become more aware of the fact that is our duty to protect our environment and the marine ecosystem. Therefore, scientists hope that something will be done soon to stop plastic waste.