Birds on the river banks are ingesting plastics at an alarming rate. In a new study scientists say plastics are ingested at the rate of hundreds of tiny fragments a day. Pieces of plastic 5mm or smaller (micro plastics), including polyester, polypropylene and nylon, are known to pollute rivers. Previous studies have shown that half of the insects in the rivers of south Wales contain micro plastic fragments. When these contaminated insects are picked up by birds and fishes they are also impacted.
The study was conducted on droppings and regurgitated pellets from dippers living near rivers. Micro plastic fragments were found in roughly half of 166 samples taken from adults and nestlings. The impact of these micro plastics on wildlife is unclear.
Studies have already confirmed that micro plastics are present even in the depths of the ocean. They are ending up in the bodies of living organisms from seals, crabs to seabirds. Rivers form a major route between land and sea for micro plastics.
The research was published in the journal Global Change Biology.