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Microplastics in the stomach contents of common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) stranded on the Galician coasts (NW Spain, 2005–2010)

Hernandez-Gonzalez, Alberto, Saavedra, Camilo, Gago, Jesús, Covelo, Pablo, Santos, M. Begoña, Pierce, Graham J.
Marine pollution bulletin 2018 v.137 pp. 526-532
Delphinus delphis, coasts, dolphins, microplastics, stomach, water pollution, Iberian Peninsula, Spain
Plastic debris is currently recognised as one of the major global threats to marine life. However, few data exist on the presence and abundance of microplastics (plastics < 5 mm in size) in marine mammals. This is the first record of the presence of microplastics in the digestive tracts of marine mammals from the Iberian Peninsula. This study made use of 35 samples of common dolphin stomach contents. Microplastics were identified in all the samples analysed, an average of 12 items per stomach although abundance varied widely from one stomach to another. Most plastic items were small fibres although some fragments and a bead were also found. Excluding the smallest fibres as possible airborne contamination, the estimated occurrence of microplastics could drop to as low as 94%. Although factors affecting accumulation of microplastics and their effect on common dolphins are unknown, the fact that all stomachs analysed contained microplastics is a cause for concern.