Plastic also found in Australian coastal reef fish



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Plastic also found in Australian coastal reef fish

Plastic pollution consists of the dispersion and accumulation of plastic materials in the environment, which causes problems for the habitat of wild fauna and flora, as well as for humans. This type of pollution can affect the air, soil, rivers, lakes and oceans.

The importance of the phenomenon derives from the cheapness of plastic, its diffusion, its widespread use in various sectors of activity and its high persistence over time. In 2017, a report drawn up with analyzes all over the world was presented on the presence of plastic microparticles in water and in the air, which due to their small size enter food chains.

The microparticles are produced by washing synthetic clothing, by the wear of tires, by the deterioration of paints, by washing aesthetic products. Since the 1990s, a pile of floating waste has been identified consisting mainly of plastic fragments smaller than 5 millimeters, in an area of ​​at least one million square kilometers in the Pacific Ocean called the Pacific Garbage Patch.

80% of the debris is assumed to come from the mainland via rivers. Plastic pollution affects not only the Pacific Ocean, but the Mediterranean Sea as well. Minimal meso-plastics detected in Australian coastal reef fish, research published on the Marine pollution bulletin, explained: "Recording plastic ingestion across various species and spatial scales is key to elucidating the impact of plastic pollution on coastal and marine ecosystems.

The effect of plastic ingestion on the diets, physiologies, and behaviors of selected fish species are well documented under laboratory settings. However, prevalence of plastic ingestion in wild fish across latitudinal gradients is yet to be widely documented; with a substantial lack of research in the Southern Hemisphere.

We analyzed the gut content of reef fish across ~ 30o latitude of the east coast of Australia. Of 876 fish examined from 140 species (83 genera and 37 families), 12 individuals had visible (meso-plastics detectable to the eye) plastics present in the gut. Here, we present a first-look at plastic ingestion for coastal species with this region."