The researchers then observed the oysters’ physiological responses to ingesting the microplastics. The most obvious effect was on reproduction. Oysters that were exposed to microplastics produced fewer and smaller egg cells and slower sperm. Exposed oysters also produced fewer larvae and their offspring tended to grow more slowly.
“The findings are concerning. It’s clear evidence that the oceans are taking the brunt of the greenhouse gases and are accumulating a lot of heat. As for the ecological implications, that’s hard to say. There is a lot of life in the deep oceans and there’s lots we don’t know about the impact upon that life.”
“We now have the best, most comprehensive assessment of trash and plastic waste on some of our most iconic marine wildlife,” said Nicholas Mallos, Director of the Trash Free Seas Program at Ocean Conservancy.
But ocean plastics pose a threat to a wide variety of marine animals, and their risk is determined by the amount of debris an animal encounters, as well as the size and shape of the debris.
“…a growing body of evidence suggests that our casual attitude about waste
may be reshaping the way the natural world functions across much of the planet, inadvertently subsidizing some opportunistic predators and thus contributing to the decline of other species, including some that are threatened or endangered.”
“There is no need to kill whales in the name of research,” he added. “Non-lethal research techniques are the most effective and efficient method of studying all cetaceans.”