Researchers at the University of Brighton have carried out the world’s first study into microplastics in the brains of a crustacean species, which could have wider implications for other marine creatures like whales and dolphins.
After feeding polystyrene fluorescent microplastic spheres to mussels, the researchers then fed these mussels to velvet swimming crabs.
The stomach, gills, testes and brains of the crab were sampled one hour, one day, seven days and 21 days after the mussels were consumed. Microplastics were present in all tissues sampled but, whereas the crab’s stomach and gills showed a decrease in in the amount of microplastics over time, the number of microplastics present in the brain remained constant.
The presence of microplastics in the brain has possible implications for a range of behaviours for these creatures, including predator avoidance, foraging and reproduction.
The amount of plastic pollution feeding into rivers and then out to the ocean is a growing problem for marine creatures likes whales and dolphins
The way some feed means that there is the potential for them to take in substantial amounts of microplastic (less than 5mm wide) floating in the water.
Exposure to these plastic-associated toxins poses a major threat to the health of these whales as they can interfere with growth and development, metabolism, and reproduction.
For more on plastic pollution and how you can help visit WDC’S NOTWHALEFOOD site. BE A PLASTIC HERO! Plastic is #NotWhaleFood.