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The Low Down On Plastic Pollution And How It Affects Sharks

The ingestion of plastic by sharks is understudied. But a study in 2002 found 28,687 large sharks were caught between 1978 and 2000 in the nets that protect users of the popular swimming beaches of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, against sharks. Over this 23-year period, a total of 60 sharks (0.38% of those with recorded stomach contents) had ingested plastic debris, the most common items being packets or sheets. Of these, 38 individuals were tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier). In 2013, a study looked at plastic pellet ingestion fish, finding that the rate of plastic ingestion by the Brazilian sharpnose shark (Rhizoprionodon lalandii) was at 33%. Ingested plastics may block digestive tracts, damage stomach linings, or lessen the need to feed in these animals, causing them to ultimately go hungry.  Read more...

 

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