#FisheriesAndOceans; #MarinePollutionBulletin; #microplasticsFoundInBelugs
British Columbia, Nov 22 (Canadian-Media): Microplastics were found in the gastrointestinal tracts of all seven beluga tested, a study conducted in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Simon Fraser University, and published last week in Marine Pollution Bulletin confirmed, media reports said.
Researchers from Ocean Wise collected samples from whales they harvested between 2017 and 2018 and found found an average of nearly 10 microplastics, or particles less than five millimetres in size, in the gastrointestinal tracts of each beluga.
Ocean Wise, Canada’s Greenest Employers, says it is the first study of microplastics in a marine mammal in Canada.
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This phenomenon demonstrated how far microplastics can travel and how they can penetrate even the most remote environments, Lead author Rhiannon Moore says.
Of the nine different types of plastic polymers identified, polyester was the most common.
Moore's belief that these belugas most likely ate fish that had already ingested the plastic and they would have passed through the whales' digestive tracts without any immediate consequences, the potential long-term health effects of prolonged exposure cannot be ruled out.
Tuktoyaktuk, a community of about 900 people on the shores of the Eastern Beaufort Sea north of the Arctic Circle, was a key partner in the project, said Moore and the researchers had the advantage of studying healthy specimens, compared with studies in other parts of the world that have looked at microplastics in whales found dead.
Moore says she suspects marine mammals closer to populated areas are likely to ingest even more microplastics than the Arctic belugas.
" That's a question that keeps me up at night a little bit," said Moore