Science/Tech

Isolated Animal In The Antarctic Found To Have Microplastics Inside Its Gut

As per a new study, scientists have discovered microplastics in the gut of an animal that’s living on a remote island in the Antarctic, raising concerns about the state of plastic pollution that the world is facing now and what this means for the planet moving forward.

Scientists Find Microplastics In The Gut Of An Animal Living On A Remote Island

According to a new research, the gut of an animal living in a remote island off of the Antarctic has been found to have microplastics, driving home just how big of a problem plastic pollution is at the moment and how it’s only bound to get worse if proper steps aren’t taken.

The researchers, who came from Italy, recently found traces of plastic contamination inside the gut of a "Cryptopygus antarcticus," a small invertebrate that lives in the soil of the Antarctic. Also known as a springtail, the tiny creature is less than a millimeter in length and is not considered an insect even if it looks like one.

The study states that their findings are the "first field-based evidence of contamination by microplastics in Antarctic terrestrial animals," with the researchers making their discovery after testing 18 animals that have been found on a large polystyrene foam in 2016 on the shore of King George Island that can be found north of the Antarctic continent.

"I was anxious about plastic debris stranded along the coast because we wanted to understand the pathways of plastic in this remote environment," Elisa Bergami, a researcher at the University of Siena who led the project after first finding the plastic material while she was making a field trip in a “polluted area,” said.

From there, the team used infrared spectroscopy at Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste, a research center in Italy, to detect whether the animals have microplastics in their bodies. According to Bergami, the animals they tested must have ingested the microplastics alongside the algae, moss and lichen that make up their diet.

"For a long time, there's been some underestimation of the potential negative role of plastics in ecosystems," Tancredi Caruso, an associate professor at University College Dublin and one of the study authors, said.

Plastic Pollution Estimates show the ocean already contains 1.4 million trillion microfibers and nearly 10 species of marine animals ingested plastics. Pixabay

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