Repeated reports of microplastic pollution in the marine pinniped diet have emerged in the last years. However, only few studies address the drivers of microplastics presence and the potential implications for monitoring microplastic pollution in the ocean. This study monitored their in the scats (N = 205) of four pinniped species/subspecies at five different locations in the southern Pacific Ocean (Peru and Chile). Samples from all rookeries contained microplastics, and overall, 68% of the examined scats contained fragments/fibers, mostly blue colored. We confirmed that 81.5% of the fragments/fibers were anthropogenic in origin , but only 30% were polymers. Scats from Juan Fernández Archipelago presented higher microplastic concentrations than continental rookeries. Also, the common diet in each location may influence the levels found in the samples. This study presents a useful non-invasive technique to track plastic pollution in top predator diets as bioindicators for future surveillance/management plans applied to different location.
Keywords: Bioindicator; Microfiber; Microfragments; PET; Pinnipeds.
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