Microplastics have been discovered in the gut of an animal on a remote island in the Antarctic, raising concerns that plastic pollution could be prevalent in the region’s ecosystem.
A new study by researchers in Italy and Ireland found traces of contamination inside the gut of the “Cryptopygus antarcticus,” a small invertebrate that lives in the soil of the Antarctic.
The tiny creature is also known as a springtail and it is less than one millimeter in length, according to the scientists.
The researchers said their findings constituted the “first field-based evidence of contamination by microplastics in Antarctic terrestrial animals.”
They made their discovery after testing 18 animals which had been found on a large piece on polystyrene foam in 2016 on the shore of King George Island, situated north of the Antarctic continent.
Researchers added the creatures must have ingested the plastic as they ate the algae, moss and lichen that coated the polystyrene block.