Sperm whales

Most whales and sea turtles seem to have plastic in their bodies

By Donna Lu

Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) in Sri Lanka

Tony Wu / NATURE PICTURE LIBRARY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Most sea turtles, whales, and fish may have plastic in their bodies. To determine the prevalence of different shapes and colors of this material in marine animals, Marga Rivas of the University of Almería in Spain and her team analyzed data from 112 studies published over the past decade.

They looked for microplastics, fragments less than 5 millimeters in size and larger pieces of plastic in marine samples worldwide.

Of the studies, 80 examined the gastrointestinal tracts of animals to see what they had ingested. The …