Plastic ingestion and trophic transfer in an endangered top predator, the longfin mako shark (Isurus paucus), from the tropical western Pacific Ocean

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2023 Oct;30(49):107365-107370. doi: 10.1007/s11356-023-25532-5. Epub 2023 Jan 30.


Plastic pollution has become a global environmental problem of major concern. However, the plastic contamination in the marine top predators, particularly in endangered species, is incompletely understood because of the limited amount of data on their presence in the digestive system and prey. This study investigated the stomach contents of an endangered but poorly known shark species, the longfin mako shark (Isurus paucus), found in the tropical western Pacific Ocean. We examined the plastics in this female specimen (1.22-m fork length) and her prey to assess the potential for trophic transfer of microplastics. Polypropylene bottle cap and lollipop packaging, longnose lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox), and squid were found in the stomach of I. paucus, while no apparent internal injuries were noted. The microplastic fragments and granules, confirmed by laser direct infrared spectroscopy, were found in the digestive system of the intact squid ingested by I. paucus, suggesting that trophic transfer may occur between shark and prey. These results indicate that I. paucus is vulnerable to plastic ingestion and provide evidence of trophic transfer of microplastics in shark species. Our study emphasizes the need to evaluate the potential ecotoxicological consequences of increasing plastic pollution to endangered marine top predators.

Keywords: Longfin mako shark; Plastic; Stomach contents; Trophic transfer; Tropical western Pacific Ocean.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eating
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Microplastics
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Plastics
  • Sharks*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis


  • Plastics
  • Microplastics
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical