According to a new study from the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR) of the University of Porto, there are now more microplastic particles than fish larvae in the mouth of the Duoro estuary near Porto, Portugal.
The research revealed that there are now 1.5 microplastics particles for every fish larva in a stunning discovery that reveals just how bad plastic pollution has become.
Researcher Sandra Ramos explained, “everything from plastic bags, bottle caps and plastic fibres in the river. River currents, winds, and the sun’s ultraviolet rays have degraded the plastics’ smallest particles.”
Researchers are still unsure just how much microplastics impact fish larva but the initial signs are very worrying. The larva assume that the microplastics are food and according to Ramos, “they can have an intestinal blockage that can end in death in case they eat it. On the other hand, after eating a lot of plastic, the fish larvae stomach will be full of plastic and not real food, so they’ll die.”
During the study, it was also revealed that plastic particles rise significantly during the rainy season when the river flow is at its strongest point. This comes as no suprise as most of the trash and debris that makes its way to the ocean is intentionally dumped there or is a product of water runoff from the mainland.
According to Público, the next step is to initiate a second study to focus on “the sources of contamination” and whether fish larvae eat all the microplastics they come up against, or simply some of them.