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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Marine Microplastics; Dr Ceri Lewis; Microplastics in Crabs and Copepods

A fascinating and important community lecture last night, at the Thomas Hardye School.

Many members of the audience must have been thinking -is it safe to eat seafood like mussels, oysters, crabs and other crustaceans? Oyster-growers and farmers must be getting nervous about the growing evidence from scientific research into filter-feeders like oysters and mussels, which ingest micro-plastic particles. Fish which are gutted are probably safer to eat (if they don't have a high concentration of mercury).

Dr Lewis, Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology at Exeter University, explained that mussels accumulate plastics (often sticky) quickly; crabs eat mussels (and the micro-plastics, which they also breathe in through their combs).

Humans are at one end of the food chain: Dr Lewis is a specialist in zooplankton and copepods.

Research paper (pdf):

Uptake and retention of microplastics by the shore crab Carcinus maenas

Plastic products: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Some tips: avoid products containing polyethylene micro-plastic beads; cotton buds with plastic stems; use compostable (corn starch) refuse bags

Plastic pellets found littering 73% of UK shoreline searched in latest citizen science survey, Marine Conservation Society

Plastic 'nurdles' found littering UK beaches, BBC News

Harmful plastic pellets found on three quarters of British beaches, Telegraph

Many species of marine life, including seabirds, are injured by plastic products such as polyester fibres, nylon fishing nets etc.

There is a high concentration of plastic waste in the Mediterranean sea.

The era of single-use plastic bottles must end if we want to save our oceans

Dr. Ceri Lewis, Researcher in Focus

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