According to a new study conducted at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, tiny microscopic animals called zooplankton are ingesting plastic particles that they mistake for food from the ocean at an alarming rate. The microplastic particles found in plankton result from deliberate manufacturing as is the case with microbeads in personal care products, or from the breakdown of plastic from washing clothes made with synthetic fibers and the decay of fishing gear and larger pieces of plastic that end up in the ocean. These zooplankton are then eaten in large numbers by larger animals higher up in the aquatic food chain ranging from salmon to baleen whales. According to the researcher Peter Ross, “these particles could pose a serious risk of physical harm to the marine animals that consume them, potentially blocking their gut or leaching chemicals into their bodies.” Although it is still unknown, there exists the potential to pose threats to humans who consume seafood as well.
A team at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom caught this on video (below right) in a single drop of water over three hours.