• Microplastics have been found in the guts of every marine mammal examined in a study of animals washed up on Britain’s shores.
  • Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) in the U.K. examined 50 animals from 10 species of dolphins, seals and whales — and found microplastics in them all.
  • Most of the particles (84%) were synthetic fibres — which can come from sources, including clothes, fishing nets and toothbrushes — while the rest were fragments, whose possible sources include food packaging and plastic bottles.
  • The number of particles in each animal was relatively low (average of 5.5 particles per animal), suggesting they eventually pass through the digestive system, or are regurgitated.
  • Though the animals in the study died of a variety of causes, those that died due to infectious diseases had a slightly higher number of particles than those that died of injuries or other causes.
  • Marine mammals are ideal sentinels of our impacts on the marine environment, as they are generally live long and many feed high up in the food chain.
  • In total, 26 species of marine mammal are known to inhabit or pass through British waters.
  • The species in this study included Atlantic white-sided dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, grey seal, harbour porpoise, harbour seal, pygmy sperm whale, Risso’s dolphin, striped dolphin and white-beaked dolphin.