Microplastic remains detected in Antarctic penguins for the first time

Gentoo penguins are pictured on Greenwich Island part of the South Shetland Island group, Antarctica. Greenpeace is documenting the Antarctic’s unique wildlife, to strengthen the proposal to create the largest protected area on the planet, an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

A group of researchers from the Portuguese University of Coimbra (UC) first detected microplastic remains in the food chain of penguins that inhabit Antarctica, a finding that experts have described as “alarming.”

Microplastic remains detected in Antarctic penguins

Photography: © UC | José Xavier.

The fieldwork, published in the journal Scientific Reports, reveals that at least 20 percent of the feces samples of penguins analyzed had microplastic remains, with particles less than 5 millimeters in volume.

“The material was of different types and colors, so there is a wide variety of possible sources of these microplastics,” reads the statement issued by the Portuguese university.

“It is alarming that microplastics have already reached Antarctica and our study is the first to register them in the marine food chain,” said Filipa Bessa, lead author of the article.

The researcher stressed the complexity of the problem, due, among other factors, to the existence of “different sources of contamination” from which the microplastics come.

José Xavier, another of the specialists who have intervened in the investigation, warned of the importance of this work, since «microplastics can cause toxic effects in marine animals and it is not yet known what they can cause in animals throughout the region”.

Source: Cooperativa.cl

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