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Open AccessArticle

Handle with Care—Microplastic Particles in Intestine Samples of Seals from German Waters

1
Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Werftstraße 6, 25761 Buesum, Germany
2
Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), University of Hamburg, Bundesstraße 55, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10424; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410424
Received: 30 September 2020 / Revised: 19 November 2020 / Accepted: 10 December 2020 / Published: 13 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microplastics - Macro Challenge for Environmental Sustainability)
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) aims to reduce the marine debris burden in the marine environment by 2020. This requires an assessment of the actual situation, which includes the occurrence as well as the caused impacts. Information on both is scarce when it comes to top predators like marine mammals and the burden of microplastic. This is hampered by the limited access to free ranging marine mammals for collecting samples, as well as sample handling. The present study investigated gastrointestinal tracts and faecal samples of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) regularly occurring in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea with the aim of gaining information on the occurrence of microplastics. In total, 255 particles ≥100 µm (70 fibres, 185 fragments) were found in exemplary ten intestine and nine faecal samples. The findings ranged from zero fibres and six fragments, up to 35 fibres and 55 fragments per sample. Additionally, this study established a protocol for sample handling, microplastic isolation (≥100 µm) and quantification of gastrointestinal tracts and faecal samples of marine mammals with a low share of contamination. This approach helps to quantify the presence of microplastics in free-ranging marine mammals and is therefore applicable to assess the real burden of microplastic presence in the marine environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: microplastic; plastic isolation; plastic ingestion; gastrointestinal tract; marine mammals microplastic; plastic isolation; plastic ingestion; gastrointestinal tract; marine mammals
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MDPI and ACS Style

Philipp, C.; Unger, B.; Fischer, E.K.; Schnitzler, J.G.; Siebert, U. Handle with Care—Microplastic Particles in Intestine Samples of Seals from German Waters. Sustainability 2020, 12, 10424. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410424

AMA Style

Philipp C, Unger B, Fischer EK, Schnitzler JG, Siebert U. Handle with Care—Microplastic Particles in Intestine Samples of Seals from German Waters. Sustainability. 2020; 12(24):10424. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410424

Chicago/Turabian Style

Philipp, Carolin; Unger, Bianca; Fischer, Elke K.; Schnitzler, Joseph G.; Siebert, Ursula. 2020. "Handle with Care—Microplastic Particles in Intestine Samples of Seals from German Waters" Sustainability 12, no. 24: 10424. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410424

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