A brand new method has been developed by scientists at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) and the University of Exeter, in collaboration with Abertay University and Greenpeace Research Laboratories, to investigate links between top predator diets and the amount of microplastic they consume through their prey, offering potential insights into the exposure of animals in the ocean and on land to microplastics.
With an estimated 9.6-25.4 million tonnes of plastic estimated to enter the sea annually by 2025, and microplastics in particular being found on the highest mountains and deepest seas, new techniques are needed to trace, investigate and analyse this growing concern.
The development of this new non-invasive method was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). It combines two existing techniques to analyse wild grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) scats (faeces), for prey species in the seals’ diet and the presence of microplastics. The scat samples were collected by staff of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (Edward Stubbings, Birgitta Bueche, Sarah Purdon, Sarah Parmor, Sylwia Zbijewska and Nathan Wilkie). MORE
Header image: Wild grey seals. Credit: Philip Newman, Natural Resources Wales.