Microplastics in grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) intestines: Are they associated with parasite aggregations?

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Hernandez-Milian, G.
Lusher, A.
MacGabban, S.
Rogan, Emer
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Elsevier Ltd.
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Between 2012 and 2015, 13 grey seals were recovered from trammel nets targeting monkfish and rays off the south coast of Ireland. Incidence and distribution of microplastics were investigated along the intestines of bycaught seals. No macrodebris items were found, whereas microplastics were detected in all seals. A total of 363 microplastics items were identified (85% fibers, 14% fragments, 1% films). Estimation of microplastic ingestion based on prey ingestion (245 particles) was lower than the observed data. Acantocephala parasites (n = 1543) were found in 12 seals, with an average of 74.5 ± 67.7 parasites per seal. Distribution of microplastics varied between seals, although microplastics tended to accumulate in areas where more parasites were aggregated; however, there was no significant relationship between the number of parasites and microplastics was found. Seals recovered from nets appear to be a good source to monitor the incidence of microplastic pollution within the coastal food webs.
Grey seals , Microplastics , Ireland , Parasites , Bycatch
Hernandez-Milian, G., Lusher, A., MacGabban, S. and Rogan, E. (2019) 'Microplastics in grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) intestines: are they associated with parasite aggregations?', Marine Pollution Bulletin, 146, pp.349-354. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.06.014
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