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Fish Are Eating Lots of Plastic

Matthew Savoca, writing for the Washington Post: As you bite down into a delicious piece of fish, you probably don’t think about what the fish itself ate — but perhaps you should. More than 50 species of fish have been found to consume plastic trash at sea (alternative source – a little old). This is bad news, not only for fish but potentially also for humans who rely on fish for sustenance. Fish don’t usually die as a direct result of feeding on the enormous quantities of plastic trash floating in the oceans. But that doesn’t mean it’s not harmful for them. Some negative effects that scientists have discovered when fish consume plastic include reduced activity rates and weakened schooling behavior, as well as compromised liver function. Most distressingly for people, toxic compounds that are associated with plastic transfer to and bioaccumulate in fish tissues. This is troubling because these substances could further bioaccumulate in people who consume fish that have eaten plastic. Numerous species sold for human consumption, including mackerel, striped bass and Pacific oysters, have been found with these toxic plastics in their stomachs. So why are fish eating plastic? According to studies cited in the report, plastic debris may smell attractive to marine organisms.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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