Led by Murdoch University in Australia, in collaboration with the Marine Megafauna Foundation in Indonesia, the research examined how toxic chemicals found in plastics can accumulate in the species over decades to pose a "significant risk" that can lead to stunted growth, altered development and reproductive problems.
"They can ingest microplastics directly from polluted water or indirectly through contaminated prey."
Scientists have warned of the dangers microplastics pose to filter-feeding marine animals like manta rays and whales. /VCG Photo
As plastic production is projected to increase globally, the establishment of long-term monitoring programs is needed in the feeding grounds of these ocean giants, so we can check on toxicity levels in these creatures over a period of time," Germanov said.
"The microplastics issue potentially places the viability of nature-based tourism involving these creatures under threat also and this kind of tourism is a significant source of income in the regions where filter-feeders congregate."