Plastic works its way up the food chain to hit fishing cats, study shows

Plastic works its way up the food chain to hit fishing cats, study shows

During a dietary study on fishing cats living near Colombo, Sri Lanka, researchers made an unexpected finding: Some scat samples collected contained plastics. Varying in size from tiny microplastics to larger debris in the form of macroplastics, these findings are cause for concern for the vulnerable species, say conservationists. The results were “a bit of a shocker to all of us,” Anya Ratnayaka, a co-founder of the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project and lead author of the paper, told Mongabay in a video interview. The team collected 276 cat samples from fishing cats living in and around Colombo’s urban area and found that six contained plastics. “The fact that we even found any is a bit worrying,” she said. Fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) are a wetland-dependent species and eat a varied diet of fish, birds and small rodents. As they are not known to forage in or eat trash, it’s thought that the species was exposed to plastic via its prey; thus the researchers believe this is likely a case of trophic transfer, in which contaminants travel up the food chain. The results were recently published in the journal Environmental Pollution. Fishing cats are wetland specialists and are considered vulnerable across their range by the IUCN. Image by Nathan Rupert via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). “All three plastic types were found in scats containing rodent remains, while meso-, and macroplastics were found in scats with avian remains, and micro- and macroplastics in scats containing freshwater fish remains,” the authors write.…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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