Blue whales eat 10 million microplastic pieces daily
Blue whales ingest up to 10 million pieces of microplastics per day, according to estimates in a study. This suggests that the pollution poses a greater danger to the world’s largest animals than previously thought.
The tiny pieces of plastic have been found everywhere from the deepest seas to the highest mountains, and even inside human organs and blood.
A modeling study published in the journal Nature Communications has estimated how much whales ingest, which is based on whales being equipped with location tags and followed on their journeys through the oceans.
The study shows that blue whales mainly eat at a depth of 50–250 meters, where the concentration of microplastics is highest. As a result, blue whales ingest up to 43.6 kilograms of microplastics per day.
Blue whales do not primarily ingest microplastics from the water itself, but from their prey, especially small crustaceans.
Humpback whales are estimated to eat about four million pieces of microplastics per day.
The next step for the researchers is to see what harm the microplastics can do to the whales.