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Microplastic and macroplastic ingestion by a deep diving, oceanic cetacean: the True's beaked whale Mesoplodon mirus.

Authors
  • Lusher, Amy L
  • Hernandez-Milian, Gema
  • O'Brien, Joanne
  • Berrow, Simon
  • O'Connor, Ian
  • Officer, Rick
Type
Published Article
Journal
Environmental Pollution
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
March 2015
Volume
199
Pages
185–191
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2015.01.023
PMID: 25667115
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

When mammals strand, they present a unique opportunity to obtain insights into their ecology. In May 2013, three True's beaked whales (two adult females and a female calf) stranded on the north and west coasts of Ireland and the contents of their stomachs and intestines were analysed for anthropogenic debris. A method for identifying microplastics ingested by larger marine organisms was developed. Microplastics were identified throughout the digestive tract of the single whale that was examined for the presence of microplastics. The two adult females had macroplastic items in their stomachs. Food remains recovered from the adult whales consisted of mesopelagic fish (Benthosema glaciale, Nansenia spp., Chauliodius sloani) and cephalopods, although trophic transfer has been discussed, it was not possible to ascertain whether prey were the source of microplastics. This is the first study to directly identify microplastics <5 mm in a cetacean species.

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