"This study provides more evidence that we all need to help reduce the amount of plastic waste released to our seas and maintain clean, healthy and productive oceans for future generations," said Penelope Lindeque, head of the Marine Plastics research group at Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
The scientific community is still unclear what effects plastics – and the chemicals contained in and on them – have on marine mammals, or any animals for that matter. However, previous studies have indicated that marine mammals who mistake microplastics for food have a much higher risk of death, like plastic bag-eating sea turtles and whales dying from blocked digestive tracts. The researchers hope that further research will help people understand how our plastic addiction impacts the world and its many animals.
"We are at the very early stages of understanding this ubiquitous pollutant," said study author Brendan Godley. "We now have a benchmark that future studies can be compared with."