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Episodic records of jellyfish ingestion of plastic items reveal a novel pathway for trophic transference of marine litter

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      Abstract

      Invertebrates represent the most plentiful component of marine biodiversity. To date, only few species have been documented for marine litter intake. Here, we report for the first time the presence of macroplastic debris in a jellyfish species. Such novel target to plastic pollution highlights an under studied vector of marine litter along marine trophic web, raising further concern over the impact on marine wildlife.

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      Microplastics in the marine environment.

      This review discusses the mechanisms of generation and potential impacts of microplastics in the ocean environment. Weathering degradation of plastics on the beaches results in their surface embrittlement and microcracking, yielding microparticles that are carried into water by wind or wave action. Unlike inorganic fines present in sea water, microplastics concentrate persistent organic pollutants (POPs) by partition. The relevant distribution coefficients for common POPs are several orders of magnitude in favour of the plastic medium. Consequently, the microparticles laden with high levels of POPs can be ingested by marine biota. Bioavailability and the efficiency of transfer of the ingested POPs across trophic levels are not known and the potential damage posed by these to the marine ecosystem has yet to be quantified and modelled. Given the increasing levels of plastic pollution of the oceans it is important to better understand the impact of microplastics in the ocean food web. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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        Synthetic polymers in the marine environment: a rapidly increasing, long-term threat.

        Synthetic polymers, commonly known as plastics, have been entering the marine environment in quantities paralleling their level of production over the last half century. However, in the last two decades of the 20th Century, the deposition rate accelerated past the rate of production, and plastics are now one of the most common and persistent pollutants in ocean waters and beaches worldwide. Thirty years ago the prevailing attitude of the plastic industry was that "plastic litter is a very small proportion of all litter and causes no harm to the environment except as an eyesore" [Derraik, J.G.B., 2002. The pollution of the marine environment by plastic debris: a review. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 44(9), 842-852]. Between 1960 and 2000, the world production of plastic resins increased 25-fold, while recovery of the material remained below 5%. Between 1970 and 2003, plastics became the fastest growing segment of the US municipal waste stream, increasing nine-fold, and marine litter is now 60-80% plastic, reaching 90-95% in some areas. While undoubtedly still an eyesore, plastic debris today is having significant harmful effects on marine biota. Albatross, fulmars, shearwaters and petrels mistake floating plastics for food, and many individuals of these species are affected; in fact, 44% of all seabird species are known to ingest plastic. Sea turtles ingest plastic bags, fishing line and other plastics, as do 26 species of cetaceans. In all, 267 species of marine organisms worldwide are known to have been affected by plastic debris, a number that will increase as smaller organisms are assessed. The number of fish, birds, and mammals that succumb each year to derelict fishing nets and lines in which they become entangled cannot be reliably known; but estimates are in the millions. We divide marine plastic debris into two categories: macro, >5 mm and micro, <5 mm. While macro-debris may sometimes be traced to its origin by object identification or markings, micro-debris, consisting of particles of two main varieties, (1) fragments broken from larger objects, and (2) resin pellets and powders, the basic thermoplastic industry feedstocks, are difficult to trace. Ingestion of plastic micro-debris by filter feeders at the base of the food web is known to occur, but has not been quantified. Ingestion of degraded plastic pellets and fragments raises toxicity concerns, since plastics are known to adsorb hydrophobic pollutants. The potential bioavailability of compounds added to plastics at the time of manufacture, as well as those adsorbed from the environment are complex issues that merit more widespread investigation. The physiological effects of any bioavailable compounds desorbed from plastics by marine biota are being directly investigated, since it was found 20 years ago that the mass of ingested plastic in Great Shearwaters was positively correlated with PCBs in their fat and eggs. Colonization of plastic marine debris by sessile organisms provides a vector for transport of alien species in the ocean environment and may threaten marine biodiversity. There is also potential danger to marine ecosystems from the accumulation of plastic debris on the sea floor. The accumulation of such debris can inhibit gas exchange between the overlying waters and the pore waters of the sediments, and disrupt or smother inhabitants of the benthos. The extent of this problem and its effects have recently begun to be investigated. A little more than half of all thermoplastics will sink in seawater.
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          The impact of debris on marine life

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2298 9743, GRID grid.12597.38, Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences, Ichthyogenic Experimental Marine Centre (CISMAR), Borgo Le Saline, , Tuscia University, ; Tarquinia, 01016 VT Italy
            [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2342 9668, GRID grid.14476.30, N. A. Pertsov White Sea Biological Reseach Station, Department of Biology, , Lomonosov Moscow State University, ; 1-12, Leninskie Gory, Moscow, 119234 Russia
            [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2178 8421, GRID grid.10438.3e, Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Physical Sciences and Earth Sciences, , University of Messina, ; Viale Ferdinando Stagno D’Alcontres 31, Messina, 98166 Italy
            [4 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1759 508X, GRID grid.5942.a, Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste S.C.p.A., ; S.S. 14 Km 163.5 in Area Science Park, Trieste, I-34149 Italy
            [5 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1757 4641, GRID grid.9024.f, Department of Physical, Earth and Environmental Sciences, , University of Siena, ; Via Mattioli 4, Siena, 53100 Italy
            Contributors
            ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8227-1282, a.macali@unitus.it
            Journal
            Sci Rep
            Sci Rep
            Scientific Reports
            Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
            2045-2322
            17 April 2018
            17 April 2018
            2018
            : 8
            29666447 5904158 24427 10.1038/s41598-018-24427-7
            © The Author(s) 2018

            Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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