Microplastics in the Mediterranean Sea: Deposition in coastal shallow sediments, spatial variation and preferential grain size

Marine litter loads in sea compartments are an emergent issue due to their ecological and biological consequences. This study addresses microplastic quantification and morphological description to test spatial differences along an anthropogenic gradient of coastal shallow sediments and further on to evaluate the preferential deposition of microplastics in a given sediment grain fraction. Sediments from Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) contained the highest concentrations of microplastics (MPs): up to 0.90 ± 0.10 MPs/g suggesting the transfer of microplastics from source areas to endpoint areas. In addition, a high proportion of microplastic filaments were found close to populated areas whereas fragment type microplastics were more common in MPAs. There was no clear trend between sediment grain size and microplastic deposition in sediments, although microplastics were always present in two grain size fractions: 2 mm > x > 1 mm and 1 mm > x 0.5 mm.

Carme Alomar, Fernando Estarellas, Salud Deudero, Marine Environmental Research, Volume 115, Pages 1–10, April 2016

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