Plastic ingestion and trophic transfer between Easter Island flying fish (Cheilopogon rapanouiensis) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) from Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

Chagnon, Catherine, Thiel, Martin, Antunes, Joana, Ferreira, Joana Lia, Sobral, Paula and Ory, Nicolas C. (2018) Plastic ingestion and trophic transfer between Easter Island flying fish (Cheilopogon rapanouiensis) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Environmental Pollution, 243 . pp. 127-133. DOI 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.08.042.

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Abstract

Highlights:
• Microplastics were found in flying fish and fish preyed upon by yellowfin tunas.
• Microplastics may be transferred from the prey, but do not remain in the tunas' guts.
• Microplastic contamination might not be an immediate threat to large predatory fish.
• Large plastic fragments may accumulate in tunas, but were found in only few (2%) of the fish.
Abstract:
Millimetre-sized fragments have been documented in many fish species, but their transfer through food webs is still poorly understood. Here we quantified and described plastic fragments in the digestive tracts of 43 Easter Island flying fish (Cheilopogon rapanouiensis) and 50 yellowfin tunas (Thunnus albacares) from coastal waters around Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the South Pacific subtropical gyre, and of fish preyed upon by T. albacares. Overall, seven C. rapanouiensis (16%) individuals had ingested microplastics, most of which resembled the common planktonic prey of the fish. One microplastic was found in the gut of a fish ingested by a tuna, which indicates that trophic transfer may occur between tuna and prey. A single T. albacares (2%) had ingested five mesoplastics (15.2–26.3 mm) that were probably not mistaken for prey items, but rather accidentally ingested during foraging on fish prey. The absence of microplastics in T. albacares suggests that such small particles, if transferred from the prey, do not accumulate in the relatively large digestive tract of large predators. On the other hand, larger plastic items may accumulate in the gut of tunas, to which they may induce deleterious effects that still need to be examined. However, only a small portion of the fish had ingested mesoplastics. The results of this study suggest that microplastic contamination is not an immediate threat to large predatory fish, such as T. albacares, along the coast of Easter Island within the South Pacific subtropical gyre.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Microplastic ingestion; Mesoplastics ingestion; Planktivorous fish; Predatory fish; Trophic transfer; South Pacific subtropical gyre; Future Ocean Sustainability
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R08
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.08.042
ISSN: 0269-7491
Projects: FONDECYT, Future Ocean, ESMOI, BASEMAN
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2018 12:31
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2018 13:29
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/44174

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