from the world's big
New study: Microplastics found in all beached dolphins, whales, and seals
"Our findings are not good news," says Brendan Godley, of the University of Exeter.
- 50 beached dolphins, whales, and seals were tested in Great Britain.
- All had microplastics in their digestive tract — mostly in the stomach.
- 84 percent were synthetic plastics; of those, 60 percent were nylon.
Scientists studied the bodies of dolphins, whales, and seals that washed ashore in the United Kingdom. Every single one of them had microplastics in them.
Sites where the animals had washed ashore
The University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) examined the bodies of the animals and made the discovery. In all, 50 animals were studied, and they represented 10 distinct species of seals, whales, and dolphins.
"It is disconcerting that we have found microplastic in the gut of every single animal we have investigated in this study," said Dr. Penelope Lindeque, from PML.
The vast majority of the microplastics — 84 percent — were "synthetic" fibers, which come from washing synthetic clothing, fishing nets, and — gasp! — toothbrushes. The most prevalent particle type was nylon, at about 60 percent.
Types of microplastics found.
The rest were fragments (defined as smaller than 5 millimeters, or about 0.20 inches) from plastic bottles and other consumer packaging, runoff from tires and paint on roads, and more. Some enter the food chain via the fish that these animals feed on, such as mackerel — which have consumed the microplastics along the way themselves — in what's known as trophic transfer. In other words, not from directly ingesting plastic. Others enter the food chain when plankton eat tiny microbeads.
Previous research has led to the conclusion that organ damage is possible, depending on the animal involved and how much microplastic is consumed. Notably, pesticides are "attracted" the surfaces of plastic, which means they can build over time in the body of an animal that has ingested some of those plastics.
Sources of plastic that end up in the food chain.
In these cases, however, because the number of particles was relatively low, at a mean of 5.5 particles per animal, it's assumed that all would have passed through the animals. Notably, however, the stomach was the primary location of most of them, which means they linger there.
Still, this study at least sets a benchmark that future studies will build on.
"Marine mammals are ideal sentinels of our impacts on the marine environment, as they are generally long-lived and many feed high up in the food chain. Our findings are not good news," said Brendan Godley, of the University of Exeter.
Join the legend of non-fiction in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova.
China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is.
What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?
The space tourism company Virgin Galactic teams up with Rolls Royce to create a new Mach 3 supersonic aircraft.
- Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic announces a partnership with Rolls Royce.
- The space tourism company will create a new supersonic jet for super-fast travel on Earth.
- The aircraft will travel at Mach 3 – three times the speed of sound.
Credit: Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic Spaceship Cabin Design Reveal<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ddd43e235d02118d76558a106aa99361"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LC286Dnq4M4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.
- Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
- As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
- The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.