A Child & Nature Reunion

Hakai |  January 29, 2020

A new study of seals living in the eastern Canadian Arctic suggests they may be exposed to less plastic pollution than animals in other bodies of water. A graduate student at Carleton University in Ottawa and her team dissected the stomachs of 142 seals, including 135 ringed seals, six bearded seals, and one harbor seal as part of the study to examine the contents and determine the health of the seals. The seal stomachs had been harvested and frozen by Inuit hunters in Nunavut from 2007 to 2019 as part of a previous study with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “

While 31 seal stomachs turned out to be empty, several were full of either tiny crustaceans called krill or small fish. Some had both. Ten had only roundworms while two had kelp. One particularly heavy stomach was brimming with three and a half kilograms of sand and rocks. Yet when the researchers sifted through these stomach contents searching for pieces of plastic, they couldn’t find any.

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