Plastic pollution in more than 80% of the fish in the amazon

A recent investigation from the Federal University of Pará in Brazil examined the stomach contents of freshwater fish from the Xingu River in Brazil, finding evidence of the consumption of plastic particles and other debris in each of the three trophic guilds (herbivores, omnivores, carnivores).

Stomach tests were applied to 172 specimens of 16 species from the Amazon , and revealed plastic particles in more than 80% of the species examined, including the omnivorous Pachu Parrot, the herbivorous Red-tailed Silver Dollar, and the Red-bellied Piranha that feeds on meat.

Microplastics in fish

The specialists identified a dozen different polymers used to make plastic items, including bags, bottles and fishing gear. Most of the debris was black, red, blue, white, or translucent and ranged from 1 mm particles to 15 mm wide flakes.

In this way, the pollution in the rivers would be affecting the world's wildlife. The typically accepted reason is that the pieces enter Amazon water bodies and degrade into plastic and micro-plastic particles that can be ingested by fish.

The process can occur in all species. Herbivores often mistake pieces of plastic for seeds, fruit, and leaves. On the other hand, omnivores can ingest plastics in macrophytes ; plants that make up a large part of their diet. While carnivores often consume plastic waste when they eat contaminated prey.

"It was a sad surprise because in the initial stage of our research, the main goal was to understand the feeding ecology of the fish, but when we started to analyze the stomach contents, we found plastic," said Tommaso Giarrizzo.

This information is added to the general data on pollution caused by plastic. The UN describes it as a "global environmental catastrophe". About 13,000,000 tons of plastic leaks into the ocean each year. For this reason, it has called for an end to the "excessive use and increased consumption of single-use plastics".

Plastic pollution in the Amazon

And it is that approximately 1 million plastic bags are used every minute. A single bag can take about 1,000 years to degrade. Given this, various ecological options have emerged to solve the global environmental problem by avoiding the use of plastic bags.

In Mexico, for example, on January 1, 2020, the ban on producing and marketing plastic bags in Mexico City came into force. To date, different companies include in their service the possibility of acquiring ecological bags made of polypropylene , bioplastic, organic cotton and other environmentally friendly materials. In the same way with the use of plastic straws, since they have become aware of giving up their comfort.

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