Microplastics in 'every animal' in marine study

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Image copyright PA
Image caption Dolphins were among the animals studied

Microplastics have been found in the guts of every marine mammal examined in a new study of animals washed up on Britain's shores, say scientists.

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) examined 50 animals from 10 species of dolphins, seals and whales.

They included mammals found dead along Scotland's coast.

Most of the particles - 84% - were synthetic fibres and the rest fragments of food packaging and plastic bottles.

Inverness-based Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme (SMASS), part of Scotland's Rural College, was among organisations that supported the study.

The research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Lead author Sarah Nelms, of the University of Exeter and PML, said it was shocking, but not surprising" that every examined animal had ingested microplastics.

She added: "The number of particles in each animal was relatively low, suggesting they eventually pass through the digestive system, or are regurgitated.

"We don't yet know what effects the microplastics, or the chemicals on and in them, might have on marine mammals.

"More research is needed to better understand the potential impacts on animal health."