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Plastic is to fish what fast food is to teens

Fish eat junk food: microplastics and microbeads

A Swedish study conducted by the Uppsala University has shown that fish larvae are today addicted to plastic. It is akin to the favourite food of many teenagers - fast food.

The study demonstrated that high concentrations of polystyrene were the favourite meal of the perch larvae. They preferred it to their natural food. The consequences are very clear, with the larvae being smaller, slower, less intelligent and more vulnerable to their enemies.

What are microbeads and why are microplastics a particular issue?

The scientists have echoed the call of many others to outlaw microbeads internationally, and fortunately an increasing number of cosmetics companies are following suit. But animals are not only consuming microbeads, but microplastics too. Plastic tends to break down under the effects of the sun, chemical reactions, motion and other influences, with pieces of plastic smaller than 5 mm being called microplastics. These microplastics are even more difficult to combat.

Microbeads and microplastics as fast food - toxic and harmful to fish and humans alike

The microbeads and microplastics are fast food to the fish larvae and they stuff themselves full on it. The plastic is not only toxic, it also means that they cannot absorb enough real food, because they don't actually feel hungry. The primary cause of death is undernourishment. Meanwhile, when people eat the fish they in turn absorb all that plastic, because the plastic always directly or indirectly enters the entire food chain.

Why do we love junk food?

So why is junk food, which is so unnatural, so popular? That's a very common question. There are evidently two underlying cornerstones:

-       The 'feeling' of the food - the flavour, scent and the texture of it in your mouth.

-       The composition of the food. Your mind must be stimulated, and in fast food that involves a combination of salt, sugar and fats.

What makes microplastics so popular among fish larvae remains a mystery...

Source/further reading:

http://jamesclear.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/why-humans-like-junk-food-steven-witherly.pdf http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6290/1213

Fish eat junk food: microplastics and microbeads Plastic in the seas becomes junk food, or microbeads