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A new study from the University of Tel Aviv finds that microplastics, small pieces of plastic ingested by aquatic life, are present in the solitary ascidians or marine invertebrates, along the coast of Israel . The ascidians are the sack-like food of marine invertebrates.
The research also confirmed the presence of plastic additives, that is, “plasticizers”, which are substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity.
The research, led by Professor Noa Shenkar of the School of Zoology at the School of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University and the Steinhardt Natural History Museum, was published in the January 2019 issue of the Marine Pollution Bulletin . The study was conducted in collaboration with Professor Dror Avisar, head of the Water Research Center at the Faculty of Exact Sciences at Tel Aviv University, and Aviv Kaplan, a graduate student at Avisar’s laboratory.
” This is the first study to examine contamination by plastic additives in marine organisms in the eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea ,” says Gal Vered, co-author of the study and a student at Shenkar’s laboratory. “Lonely ascidians are highly efficient filter feeders and are excellent examples of the state of pollution that affects many other marine organisms. Our findings are extremely disturbing. Even on protected beaches, there was evidence of microplastics and plastic additives in the ascidians. In fact, at each sampling site, we discovered different levels of these contaminants. “
Shenkar noted that ” this is a direct result of the human use of plastic . It may seem that the plastic bags and the bulky plastic products that we notice floating in the sea are the main problem . But a more important concern is the fragmentation of these products into small particles that are then ingested by many organisms and even reach the deepest areas of the ocean. “
Every year about 350 million tons of plastic are produced around the world, and the number is increasing. The research suggests that, if the plastic is found in the ascidians, it is probably also present in other marine creatures.
Researchers are currently preparing their results for policymakers interested in preventing further damage to the coast of Israel. They also continue to investigate the extent and effect of plastic pollution on the Eilat coral reef.
“By communicating our results to the public,” Shenkar said, ” we hope to further increase public awareness of the actions that everyone can take to combat plastic pollution .”
Source: Diario Judio