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Microplastics found in penguins in Antarctica |  Science and Ecology |  DW

Microplastics found in penguins in Antarctica | Science and Ecology | DW

A scientific team has confirmed the “widespread presence” of microplastics in the diet of penguins in Antarctica, after analyzing the faeces of three species of these animals in different places and years.

Among other particles of human origin, the researchers identified polyester and polyethylene.

Publish the work in the magazine college ecology It was signed, among other things, by researchers from the National Museum of Natural Sciences of the Spanish Supreme Council for Scientific Research (MNCN-CSIC).

Microplastics are particles less than 5 millimeters in size and are increasingly prevalent in marine ecosystems, which is a concern as they persist in the environment and accumulate in feeding chains, according to a CSIC statement.

“These pollutants reach the seas and oceans mainly through litter and waste generated by human activities,” explains Andres Barbosa, MNCN scientist and author of the work.

Fishing boats and cruise ships are among the culprits

Given the low human presence in the Antarctic Ocean and Antarctica, low pollution by microplastics is expected.

However, research stations, fishing boats, tourist boats and ocean currents make these particles reach these habitats, which can cause a high concentration at the local level, says Jose Xavier, a researcher at the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and one of the authors.

Although far from human societies, Antarctic penguins consume microplastics

For this, the feces of three species of penguin were analyzed: the adelie penguin (“Pygoscelis adeliae”), the chinstrap (“Pygoscelis Antarcticus”) and the gentoo (“Pygoscelis papua”).

The results show that the diet of the three species consists of different proportions of Antarctic krill, 85% in the case of the Adélie penguin; 66% in the chin strap, and finally 54% in Papua.

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“Microplastics were found in 15, 28 and 29% of the samples, respectively, in the three species studied,” details Joanna Fragao, of the University of Coimbra.

The frequency of appearance of these substances was similar in all colonies, indicating that there was no specific point of origin for pollution within the Scotia Sea.

EL (efe, STE)