Monitoring plastic concentrations in estuaries is vital in assessing the magnitude of terrestrial inputs to oceanic environments. Data on plastics ≤ 5 mm in estuaries are scant. This study determined microplastic levels within five estuaries along the Durban coastline and on intervening beaches. Plastics were isolated from estuarine sediment, beach sediment and the surface water of each estuary and characterised. Sediment at the Bayhead area of Durban harbour had the highest average plastic concentrations (745.4 ± 129.7 particles per 500 ml) and an attenuating concentration trend away from the city centre was found. Prevailing south to north longshore drift was hypothesised to result in plastic accumulation on the northern shores of beaches with estuarine effluents, however, this was not found. Fragments composed the largest percent of plastics (59%) found in Bayhead, whereas fibres dominated other estuaries with proportions ranging from 38% of total plastics in the uMgeni estuary to 66% in the Mdloti.
Trishan Naidoo, David Glassom, Albertus J. Smit, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 101, Issue 1, Pages 473–480, 15 December 2015