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Microplastics in marine mammals

Plastics can today be found in all environments, and particularly in our oceans. CEC and Marint centrum in Simrishamn have established a collaboration with the Swedish Museum of Natural History (NRM) and the National Veterinary Institute (SVA) to analyze to what extent microplastic particles and fibres (<5 mm) occur in marine mammals that live in the Baltic Sea.

At SVA and NRM, dead marine mammals are regularly autopsied and sampled in order to monitor and study their health status, reproductive status, and screen for diseases and environmental pollutants. At CEC we analyse the animals’ tissues and faeces to investigate if exposure to small plastic particles affects the health of marine mammals, something we know very little about today.

The project

The analyses focus mainly on porpoises, seals and otters, but other marine mammal species are also included in the study.

The research will try to answer how common microplastic particles are inside marine mammals, if the plastic can be linked to health problems, which organs are affected and which types of plastic that the identified microplastic particles and fibers originate from.

The results from the project will contribute with information that hopefully can be used to make more sustainable solutions when it comes to the problem with plastic waste and pollution in the Baltic Sea.