Initially, the idea was that fish would only ingest small plastic particles by accident. A new study indicates that the problem is after all another, the fish are attracted to the plastic and eat it intentionally.
This is the reason why fish ingested the plastic derived from the pollution of the oceans. It is not by accident; the fish are even attracted to consume the plastic and the discovery was published this week.
There are many species of fish swallowing plastic debris, researchers at the University of California and San Francisco Bay Aquarium say in a study published in a British science journal. It has been concluded that the ingestion of plastics can be fatal and leads to an accumulation of toxic substances along the food chain, when predators feed on prey that ingested plastics.
Scientists also studied the reactions of a school of anchovies in California (engraulis mordax) – which normally feed on zooplankton – in the face of a mixture containing specific parts of plastics and another containing plastic remains covered with algae.
In this case, researchers from the University of California and the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducted tests on anchovies that reveal that when plastic is mixed with salt water and begins to disintegrate, it releases a krill-like odor – a species similar to shrimp.
“This is the first behavioral proof that plastic debris can be chemically attractive to marine consumers”, the study explains.
To the experience of the authors of this study, scientists believed that fish accidentally ingest small plastic particles only when they were ingesting floating pieces of plankton or krill. But the problem is much more serious, the smell that plastics make not only causes fish to eat the debris to believe it is food, but to attract it to them.
“These findings have considerable implications for aquatic food webs and possibly human health”, the study further reveals.
In the past 40 years, the number of plastic pieces floating in the oceans has increased more than 100 times. There are about 7 million tons of waste dumped into the oceans each year, affecting more than 600 species.