Low prevalence of microplastic contamination in planktivorous fish species from the southeast Pacific Ocean

Nicolas Ory, Catherine Chagnon, Fernando Felix, César Fernández, Joana Lia Ferreira, Camila Gallardo, Ostin Garcés Ordóñez, Aida Henostroza, Enrique Laaz, Ricardo Mizraji, Hermes Mojica, Vladimir Murillo Haro, Luis Ossa Medina, Mercy Preciado, Paula Sobral, Mauricio A. Urbina, Martin Thiel

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37 Citations (Scopus)


The gut contents of 292 planktivorous fish, from four families (Atherinopsidae, Clupeidae, Engraulidae and Scombridae) and seven species, captured along the coast of the southeast Pacific, were examined for microplastic contamination. Only a small fraction of all studied fish (2.1%; 6 individuals) contained microplastic particles in their digestive tract. Microplastics found were degraded hard fragments and threads, ranging from 1.1 to 4.9 (3.8 ± SD 2.4) mm in length, and of various colours, which suggests that the planktivorous fish species examined herein did not capture microplastics on the basis of their colour. The low prevalence of microplastic contamination in planktivorous fishes found in this study suggests that the risk of accidental ingestion by these species might be limited in the coastal upwelled waters of the southeast Pacific, perhaps due to small human population and highly dynamic oceanographic processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-216
Number of pages6
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018



  • Humboldt Current System
  • Microplastic contamination
  • Planktivorous fish
  • Southeast Pacific Ocean
  • Upwelling systems

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