Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans

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Basking in plastics… and what you can do!

Feeding baskin shark

Large filter feeding marine organisms are indicators of microplastic in the pelagic environment: creatures like basking sharks ‘inhale’ microplastics when filter feeding.
A recent study by Maria Cristina Fossi1, Daniele Coppola1, Matteo Baini, Matteo Giannetti1, Cristiana Guerranti, Letizia Marsili, Cristina Panti, Eleonora de Sabata and Simona Clò showed the toxicological effects of microplastics in the Mediterranean fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) and basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and measured the levels of phthalates in both species. The results show higher concentration of MEHP (Mono(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate) in the muscle of basking shark in comparison to fin whale blubber. These species can be proposed as indicators of microplastics in the pelagic environment (Descriptor 8 – Contaminants and pollution effects en 10 (Marine litter) in the implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

Do not litter, and choose your cosmetics and other consumer products wisely!

How do these microplastics come into the marine environment? People consume more plastics, and therefore the distribution of microplastics in the oceans has steadily increased over the last few decades.

The three main sources of microplastic in marine environments are:
1) consumer products such as cosmetics
2) breakdown of larger plastic material
3) the shedding of synthetic fibres from textiles by domestic clothes washing.

To reduce the amount of microplastic getting into our waterways:

Avoid personal care products containing polyethylene
Avoid clothing made from synthetic fibres
Keep plastics, such as plastic bags and bottles, out of waterways


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