Earth Science, Earth's System, ES 1: Geochemical Cycles (HS), ES 1: Materials/Energy Flow (MS), ES 4: Carbon Cycling (HS), ES 5: Life on Earth (HS)

Frequency of Microplastics in Mesopelagic Fishes from the Northwest Atlantic

Frequency of Microplastics in Mesopelagic Fishes from the Northwest Atlantic

SUMMARY: In this experiment, the researchers sampled dead mesopelagic fish from the Northwest Atlantic Mid-Ocean area (between Ireland and Newfoundland). The water and the fish guts were strained for microplastics. Researchers found that 73% of the fish had microplastics in their stomach. Most of the microplastic was fibers. In the discussion section, researchers talked about why their results showed higher percentages of plastic in fish than other studies (including using different plastic extraction methods and a finer filter). Given the role of these mesopelagic fish in the ocean ecosystem and their contributions to marine snow, microplastic pollution is a serious problem. With the bioaccumulation of pollution going up the trophic levels, more research is required to understand the long term impacts of microplastics on ocean food chains.

LESSON COMMENTS: This is not a difficult article to read for high school students and is useful when learning about the different layers of the ocean. Other topics that can be covered include: bioaccumulation, trophic levels, marine snow, carbon cycling in the oceans, and the importance of biodiversity.

Wieczorek, A. M., Morrison, L., Croot, P. L., Allcock, A. L., Macloughlin, E., Savard, O., . . . Doyle, T. K. (2018). Corrigendum: Frequency of Microplastics in Mesopelagic Fishes from the Northwest Atlantic. Frontiers in Marine Science,5. doi:10.3389/fmars.2018.00127