Fewer eggs and slower sperm
More and more plastic waste of different products and industrial processes are ending up in our oceans. Over time, these plastics break down into ever smaller particles, increasing the amount of microplastic in our environment.
In an article recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, researchers from the French Institute for Ocean Studies revealed that the oysters consumed a large amount of microplastics.
This was because microplastics were similar in size and shape to the microalgae that oysters like to snack on.
In an experiment, researchers placed oysters in water containing the same concentration of plastic microbeads as that measured in field studies. These oysters were observed consuming 69 percent of the six-micrometre-wide plastic particles present as if they were tiny algae.
These oysters subsequently experienced lower reproduction rates, producing 39 percent fewer eggs and sperm that were 23 percent slower. In addition, their descendants suffered the same deficiencies, developing slower and at smaller sizes than normal.
Besides oysters, the researchers suspect that other clams and filter feeders are likely to be similarly affected as well. Hence, it is no doubt that the presence of microplastics could have a dire effect on oyster farming and aquaculture.
Link to the study: www.pnas.org/../2016/01/25/1519019113