Researchers find plastic microfibers in fur seal scat

Researchers found plastic microfibers in 67 percent of South American fur seal scat. ©Brian Gratwicke

After examining scat of South American fur seals (Arctocephalus australis), researchers discovered significant amounts of plastic microfibers in most of the samples. The researchers looked at the scat of 51 female fur seals on Guafo Island in southwestern Chile. They dissolved the scat in a solution, leaving behind microscopic plastic fibers from materials like polyester and nylon for them to study. Researchers found that 67 percent of the scat samples had “a remarkable abundance” of microfibers. The team suggests that examining scat may be an efficient way to determine levels of microfibers and microplastics in the environment.

Read the study in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.