Tiny bits of plastic threaten oyster survival

Oysters, like these seen on March 20, 2014 from the Chesapeake Bay near Hollywood, Maryland, "readly ingest" microplas
Oysters, like these seen on March 20, 2014 from the Chesapeake Bay near Hollywood, Maryland, "readly ingest" microplastics since they are similar in size to phytoplankton which they typically consume

Tiny bits of plastic that pollute the world's waters may also interfere with oysters' ability to reproduce and thrive, according to a study Monday by researchers in France and Belgium.

The damage happens quickly, according to the findings of a study using Pacific oysters that were kept in tanks.

Those exposed to microplastics made smaller eggs and sperm that was less mobile compared to a of oysters whose tank did not contain added microplastics.

After just two months of exposure to , oysters produced "41 percent fewer offspring, which also grew at lower rates," said the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.

Since microplastics are similar in size to the phytoplankton that oysters typically consume, the bivalves "readily ingested" the particles, said the study.

The ocean is polluted each year with between four and 12 million tons of plastic from cosmetics, clothing, industry and improper waste management, according to background information in the article.

Since plastic cannot decompose like organic waste, it breaks down into the size of a millimeter or less.

"Given their ubiquitous nature and small dimensions, the ingestion and impact of microplastics on are a cause for concern," said the study.

Explore further

International investigation begins on the effect of microplastics on manta rays

More information: Oyster reproduction is affected by exposure to polystyrene microplastics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1519019113

© 2016 AFP

Citation: Tiny bits of plastic threaten oyster survival (2016, February 1) retrieved 18 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-02-tiny-bits-plastic-threaten-oyster.html
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Feb 01, 2016
"a cause for concern" is quite the understatement.

Slightly larger question: During the course of human evolution, how much mid-ocean protein was consumed? Not much.

How can there be 'excess' anchovies? There were never a "resource" called anchovies (since it was other animal's food) and it certainly ISN'T a resource we can "manage".

The proof of that is fish are evolving smaller since the little ones get through the drift nets...

We disrupted the entire ocean food chain, and now are polluting the bottom feeders with micro bits of poison.

This is truly "HUMAN NATURE" since our very earliest time, when we climbed out of trees, made nests, spoiled them and moved on.

Now, we've spoiled the entire planet, and near earth orbit to boot.

Feb 02, 2016
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