Ocean fish actually prefer plastic junk food to plankton – then they die

figure_in_bubble_bath_1600_clr_13628Scientists in Sweden exposed larval perch to small plastic particles measuring less than 5mm in diameter and they loved them!

Not for them the nutritious free swimming zoo plankton  they are supposed to eat.

They completely changed their diets like teenagers eating junk food – in this case literally.

Apart from filling the fish with junk of no nutritional value it made them more sluggish and also made them ignore predators like pike. So they were caught and eaten four times quicker than fish not exposed to the plastic.

All the fish exposed to the plastic were dead within 48 hours.

The researchers at Uppsala University found the same thing happened with other species including tropical fish and those from temperate waters. They say “the effects on aquatic ecosystems could be profound”

They even predict that if current trends continue there could be more plastic rubbish than fish in our oceans by 2050!

These micro plastic particles originate from either larger pieces of plastic which fragment or from microbeads used in exfoliants and face scrubs (See post on Nemo doing more harm than good)

The particles, which are not filtered out by sewerage treatment plants, make their way to the oceans via waterways and settle at concentrated levels in shallow coastal areas.

The US is banning the use of microbeads in personal care products from July 2017 and the UK government has agreed to support calls from other EU states for a similar ban (why don’t we have the guts to ban them ourselves?)

Updated 2 August 2016

Experts at Plymouth University were staggered by how many microbeads they found in facial scrubs.

There were up to 94,500 in each wash!

One tube contained up to 2.8 million microbeads.  All there just to make your skin feel smooth.

Professor of Marine Biology Richard Thompson said “It can be hard to convey in words how small these beads are and how many are released by one wash”. Their size varies from 0.01 mm up to 1 mm.

Microbeads are among the fastest growing form of marine pollution. Their size means that they pass through sewage treatment screens and are discharged into rivers and oceans. Their size also gives the appearance of food to planktons and baby fish (as posted above). These are then passed up the food chain.

Cosmetics Europe, a representative body, has recommended that microbeads be phased out. L’Oreal are also phasing them out in their rinse-off products.

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3 thoughts on “Ocean fish actually prefer plastic junk food to plankton – then they die

  1. […] Now let’s tackle plastic micro-beads! […]

  2. mikethepsych says:

    Reblogged this on Mike the Psych's Blog.

  3. […] I have posted previously about the dangers of plastic to marine life and more recently about ocean fish becoming addicted to plastic junk  […]

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