Impact of litter on marine animals

12-01-2018
Ingestion, entanglement, and strangulation, are some of these impacts
Fish, marine mammals, sea birds and sea turtles die from the ingestion of litter. This happens usually with plastic litter, which the animals confuse with their food and obstructs their digestive and respiratory tracts. The litter inside the animals' stomachs also creates a false sensation of satiety, ultimately killing them of starvation.

Also, small invertebrates and fish ingest microplastics, which may embed in their intestines, affecting their immune, digestive and reproductive systems. Additionally, it has been found that microplastics absorb and accumulate chemical toxins that are diluted in the surrounding seawater, which are then transmitted to the animals' tissues and muscles when ingested, and therefore to other organisms located upper in the food web as well.

The negative effects are not only due to the animals consuming the litter. Marine animals are also affected when they become entangled in ropes, plastic containers, bags, among others, which hinder their movement in the marine environment and cause problems to their growth and development.

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