Seasonal variation in the abundance of marine plastic debris in the estuary of a subtropical macro-scale drainage basin in South China

Marine plastic debris, including microplastic debris (0.315–5 mm) and large plastic debris (> 5 mm), was collected from 25 beaches in Hong Kong during a wet summer season (June–August 2014) and the following dry winter season (January–March 2015). Wilcoxon signed rank tests were used to compare the abundances and weights of seven categories of plastic debris between the two seasons. The results showed that the abundances and weights were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in the wet season than in the dry season. Additionally, seasonal differences were detected only at the sites that were located on the west coast of Hong Kong and not at the sites on the east coast. These results suggest that the Pearl River Estuary on the west of Hong Kong plays a prominent role in the abundance and distribution of plastic debris in Hong Kong. In addition, the study indicates that estimates of microplastic abundance may be biased if samples are collected only during the wet or dry season if the sample locations are strongly influenced by a seasonal variation of riverine inputs, such as from the Pearl River.

Pui Kwan Cheung, Lewis Ting On Cheung, Lincoln Fok, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 562, Pages 658–665, 15 August 2016

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