Seasonal and spatial variations of marine litter on the south-eastern Black Sea coast

The south-eastern Black Sea coast in Turkey was evaluated for marine litter composition and density covering nine beaches during four seasons. The marine litter (> 2 cm in size), was collected from the coast and categorized into material and usage categories. The data analysis showed that plastic was the most abundant litter (≥ 61.65%) by count and weight followed by styrofoam and fabric. The marine litter density ranged from 0.03 to 0.58 with a mean (± SD) of 0.16 ± 0.02 items/m2 by count. Based on weight, it varied between 0.44 and 14.74 g/m2 with 3.35 ± 1.63. The east side had a higher marine litter density than the west side with significant differences between beaches. The variations due to different seasons were not significant for any beach. The results of this study should provide baseline information about the coastal marine pollution and will assist the mitigation strategies.

Yahya Terzi, Kadir Seyhan, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 10 May 2017, In Press

The article

Coastal debris analysis in beaches of Chonburi Province, eastern of Thailand as implications for coastal conservation

This study quantified coastal debris along 3 beaches (Angsila, Bangsaen, Samaesarn) in eastern coast of Thailand. Debris samples were collected from lower and upper strata of these beaches during wet and dry seasons. The results showed that Bangsaen had the highest average debris density (15.5 m− 2) followed by Samaesarn (8.10 m− 2), and Angsila (5.54 m− 2). Among the 12 debris categories, the most abundant debris type was plastics (> 45% of the total debris) in all beach locations. Coastal debris distribution was related to economic activities in the vicinity. Fishery and shell-fish aquaculture activities were primary sources of debris in Angsila while tourism activities were main sources in Bangsaen and Samaesarn. Site-specific pollution control mechanisms (environmental awareness, reuse and recycling) are recommended to reduce public littering. Management actions in Angsila should focus on fishery and shell-fish culture practices, while Bangsaen and Samaesarn should be directed toward leisure activities promoting waste management.

Gajahin Gamage Nadeeka Thushari, Suchana Chavanich, Amararatne Yakupitiyage, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 116, Issues 1–2, 15 March 2017, Pages 121–129

The article

Cadmium, lead and bromine in beached microplastics

Samples of microplastic (n = 924) from two beaches in south west England have been analysed by field-portable-x-ray fluorescence (FP-XRF) spectrometry, configured in a low-density mode and with a small-spot facility, for the heavy metals, Cd and Pb, and the halogen, Br. Primary plastics in the form of pre-production pellets were the principal type of microplastic (>70%) on both beaches, with secondary, irregularly-shaped fragments representing the remainder of samples. Cadmium and Pb were detected in 6.9% and 7.5% of all microplastics, respectively, with concentrations of either metal that exceeded 103 μg g−1 usually encountered in red and yellow pellets or fragments. Respective correlations of Cd and Pb with Se and Cr were attributed to the presence of the coloured, inorganic pigments, cadmium sulphoselenide and lead chromate. Bromine, detected in 10.4% of microplastics and up to concentrations of about 13,000 μg g−1, was mainly encountered in neutrally-coloured pellets. Its strong correlation with Sb, whose oxides are effective fire suppressant synergists, suggests the presence of a variety of brominated flame retardants arising from the recycling of plastics originally used in casings for heat-generating electrical equipment. The maximum bioaccessible concentrations of Cd and Pb, evaluated using a physiological extraction based on the chemical characteristics of the proventriculus-gizzard of the northern fulmar, were about 50 μg g−1 and 8 μg g−1, respectively. These concentrations exceed those estimated for the diet of local seabirds by factors of about 50 and 4, respectively.

Angelo Massos, Andrew Turner, Environmental Pollution, Volume 227, August 2017, Pages 139–145

The article

Quantifying microplastic pollution on sandy beaches: the conundrum of large sample variability and spatial heterogeneity

Despite the environmental risks posed by microplastic pollution, there are presently few standardized protocols for monitoring these materials within marine and coastal habitats. We provide a robust comparison of methods for sampling microplastics on sandy beaches using pellets as a model and attempt to define a framework for reliable standing stock estimation. We performed multiple comparisons to determine: (1) the optimal size of sampling equipment, (2) the depth to which samples should be obtained, (3) the optimal sample resolution for cross-shore transects, and (4) the number of transects required to yield reproducible along-shore estimates across the entire sections of a beach. Results affirmed that the use of a manual auger with a 20-cm diameter yielded the best compromise between reproducibility (i.e., standard deviation) and sampling/processing time. Secondly, we suggest that sediments should be profiled to a depth of at least 1 m to fully assess the depth distribution of pellets. Thirdly, although sample resolution did not have major consequence for overall density estimates, using 7-m intervals provides an optimal balance between precision (SD) and effort (total sampling time). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, comparing the minimum detectable difference yielded by different numbers of transects along a given section of beach suggests that estimating absolute particle density is probably unviable for most systems and that monitoring might be better accomplished through hierarchical or time series sampling efforts. Overall, while our study provides practical information that can improve sampling efforts, the heterogeneous nature of microplastic pollution poses a major conundrum to reproducible monitoring and management of this significant and growing problem.

Mara Fisner, Alessandra P. Majer, Danilo Balthazar-Silva, Daniel Gorman, Alexander Turra, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, pp 1–9, First online, 11 April 2017

The article

Australian draft plan aims to reduce marine debris

The Australian Government has issued a draft threat abatement plan with strategies to reduce marine debris. The plan specifically targets plastic litter.

It said marine debris, particularly plastic, is harmful to marine wildlife, with impacts caused through entanglement, ingestion and contamination.

The draft threat abatement plan for the impacts of marine debris on vertebrate marine species follows an Australian Senate inquiry on the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia, which released a report, Toxic tide: the threat of marine plastic, in April 2016. The draft plan said marine debris impacts have been documented for seabirds, marine turtles, cetaceans, sharks and other Australian marine wildlife, including many species listed as threatened.

The Federal Government has sought public comment on the draft plan and will then release a final plan. (…) (, 10/04/2017)

The news

Sources and fate of microplastics in marine and beach sediments of the Southern Baltic Sea-a preliminary study

Microplastics’ (particles size ≤5 mm) sources and fate in marine bottom and beach sediments of the brackish are strongly polluted Baltic Sea have been investigated. Microplastics were extracted using sodium chloride (1.2 g cm−3). Their qualitative identification was conducted using micro-Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (μFT-IR). Concentration of microplastics varied from 25 particles kg−1 d.w. at the open sea beach to 53 particles kg−1 d.w. at beaches of strongly urbanized bay. In bottom sediments, microplastics concentration was visibly lower compared to beach sediments (0–27 particles kg−1 d.w.) and decreased from the shore to the open, deep-sea regions. The most frequent microplastics dimensions ranged from 0.1 to 2.0 mm, and transparent fibers were predominant. Polyester, which is a popular fabrics component, was the most common type of microplastic in both marine bottom (50%) and beach sediments (27%). Additionally, poly(vinyl acetate) used in shipbuilding as well as poly(ethylene-propylene) used for packaging were numerous in marine bottom (25% of all polymers) and beach sediments (18% of all polymers). Polymer density seems to be an important factor influencing microplastics circulation. Low density plastic debris probably recirculates between beach sediments and seawater in a greater extent than higher density debris. Therefore, their deposition is potentially limited and physical degradation is favored. Consequently, low density microplastics concentration may be underestimated using current methods due to too small size of the debris. This influences also the findings of qualitative research of microplastics which provide the basis for conclusions about the sources of microplastics in the marine environment.

Bożena Graca, Karolina Szewc, Danuta Zakrzewska, Anna Dołęga, Magdalena Szczerbowska-Boruchowska, Environ Sci Pollut Res (2017) 24: 7650

The article

Seasonal dynamics of marine litter along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast

In this study marine litter (ML) surveys were conducted in 8 beaches along the Bulgarian Black Sea coastline within 4 seasons for 2015–2016. The monitoring applied OSPAR guideline, classifying ML in eight categories and 167 types. The results exhibited predominance of artificial polymer materials – 84.3%. ML densities ranged from 0.0587 ± 0.005 to 0.1343 ± 0.008 n/m2, highest on the urban beaches. The seasonal dynamics of most top 10 ML showed highest quantities in summer than the other seasons, as the differences are of high statistical significance (0.001 ≤ P ≤ 0.05). Top 1 ML item for most of the beaches was cigarette butts and filters reaching 1008 ± 10.58 nos. in summer and from 19 ± 3.41 to 89 ± 7.81 nos. during the rest of the seasons (P < 0.001). For the pronounced seasonality contributed the recreational activities, increased tourist flow and the wild camping. The investigation will enrich data scarcity for Descriptor 10 “Marine litter”.

Anna Simeonova, Rozalina Chuturkova, Velika Yaneva, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 23 March 2017, In Press

The article