People Eat Fish That Eat Fish That Eat Plastic

By Eric S. Page
|  Tuesday, Feb 9, 2010  |  Updated 1:30 PM PDT
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People Eat Fish That Eat Fish That Eat Plastic

Cara

Fishing in Cape May at sunset

Scientists exploring the Great Pacific Garbage Patch have made another disturbing discovery, according to a published report.

The UCSD scientists returned from their trip to the Northern Pacific in August, bringing back tales, pictures and more than 100 samples from a blob of degraded plastic that is reportedly the size of Texas or bigger.

Now, in addition to the large concentration of plastic, Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers have determined some of the fish in the area are eating it.

"We did indeed find some indisputable pieces of plastic in their guts," Pete Davison, a Scripps graduate student dissecting the fish, told the voiceofsandiego.org.

The scientists told the nonprofit online news site that about 5-10 percent of the fish they studied --"mainly small swimmers common in the deep ocean, like lanternfish and hatchetfish" had consumed the tiny plastic particles. Those fish, in turn, are eaten by bigger, commercially fished species.

"If tuna is eating a lot of lanternfish, it is indirectly ingesting the plastic that might be in the lanternfish's stomach," Davison said.

Another disturbing fact: substances like PCB and DDT can be absorbed by plastic and leach into sea life, reported the voiceofsandiego.org.

The North Pacific Ocean Gyre -- a large spinning area of water 1,000 miles off California -- took the Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers five days to reach.

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