A new study has shown that filter-feeding whales could eat as much as 43kg of plastic daily.
The study was published in the international science journal Nature Communications. It compared the feeding habits of 191 blue, fin and humpback whales around the California coast with in-depth microplastic data.
Microplastics are defined as any piece of plastic less than 5mm in length.
Baleen whale species – which use plates in their mouths like a sieve to catch tiny sea creatures – are thought to be at particularly high risk.
Researchers found the baleen whales mostly fed at depths of 50m to 250m, where the most microplastics were found.
Based on their measurements, they estimated blue whales could consume up to 10 million microplastic pieces daily, while smaller humpback whales could consume up to four million pieces daily.
For blue whales, that could mean eating anywhere between 2.5kg and 43.6kg of plastic each day