ALF’s New Micro-plastics Net

An Introduction to Microplastics

The destruction of aquatic ecosystems, including microplastics, is a major issue facing aquatic conservationists globally. This issue includes microplastic pollution, acidification, and over-fishing.  Wikipedia defines microplastics as very small pieces of plastic that pollute the environment. We have produced a new survey net at Aquatic Live Food to help with this issue. The net will assist researchers in gathering data on microplastics and to sample surface plankton more efficiently.

Manta Micro-Plastics Collection Net
Manta Micro-Plastics Collection Net

We aimed to do some sea trials using our prototype net. We wanted to establish optimal collection sizes to ensure our net would fair well in all sea & weather conditions. As a result, the micro-plastics net worked effectively, and it was robust enough to withstand exposure to aquatic environments!

The ALF Manta Micro-Plastics Net is also easy when operated in calmer inshore waters and on rivers, lakes and waterways.

Whales and Plastic

The oceans are full of planktonic prey and predatory fish, which attract different whale species. Despite the availability of good food sources, research points to a bleak future for cetaceans worldwide.

Filter-feeding baleen whales like humpbacks and fin whales, toothed sperm whales, and killer whales consume enormous amounts of plastic. The debris blocks their digestive tracts and, scientists suspect, delivers toxic chemicals into their bodies. But no one quite understands why whales are eating plastic in the first place—or precisely what these intoxicants do to their bodies.

A filter-feeding adult humpback draws in nearly 19,000 litres of water and one and a half tonnes of krill daily. Imagine how much plastic they trap!

Ocean currents appear to carry both nutrients and microplastics into whale feeding grounds as well as other Marine Mammals. Whales are eating microplastics, so the key question becomes: what are microplastics doing to these animals?

The whales consuming microplastics may not be a digestion issue. However, the problem of having microplastic in the body could be a chemical problem. The toxins microplastics tend to harbour may cause ulcers, other reactions, and possible chemical poisoning.

The problematic possibilities can be averted by providing appropriate tools for researchers and other interested parties.

Freshwater Micro-Plastics

Microplastics—tiny particles of plastic less than five millimetres in size—are polluting rivers and ponds along with chemical contaminants. The particles come from cosmetics such as exfoliating body scrubs or are washed out of synthetic fabrics. Until now, scientists have primarily investigated the concentrations and effects of microplastics in seawater.

The Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin is testing how high concentrations of standardised plastic particles affect water fleas. Their experiments showed that the ubiquitous residents of freshwater bodies ingest tiny particles of a micrometre or one-thousandth of a millimetre in size. This limited the water fleas’ mobility and, as a result, their intake of nutrients.

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