Toxic bacteria found on microplastics around Singapore’s coastline

Toxic bacteria capable of causing coral bleaching and wound infections in humans have been found on microplastics picked up from the Republic’s coastline between April and July 2018.Marine scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) found more than 400 different types of bacteria on 275 pieces of microplastics collected from three beaches – Lazarus Island, Sembawang Beach and Changi Beach.

Straitstimes.com, 11/02/2019

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Fishing lines and fish hooks as neglected marine litter: first data on chemical composition, densities, and biological entrapment from a Mediterranean beach

We reported first data on the densities and chemical composition of fishing lines and fish hooks deposited on a Mediterranean beach. On a sampling area of 1.5 ha, we removed a total of 185,028 cm of fishing lines (density 12.34 cm/m2) and 33 hooks (density 22 units/ha). Totally, 637.62 g (42.5 mg/m2) of fishing lines were collected. We sampled 120 items entangled belongings to 7 animal taxa (density 6.49 items/100 m of fishing lines). We also observed a not quantifiable number of egagropiles (Posidonia oceanica spheroids), Rhodophyceae (Halymenia sp.) and segments of reeds of Phragmites communis, trapped in the fishing lines. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was used in order to identify the chemical composition of the fishing lines: 92% was made of nylon while 8.0% was determined as fluorocarbon based polymers (polyvinylidene fluoride). Because of their subtlety and reduced size, sandy beach cleaning operations should include at least two consecutive removal samplings: indeed, a part of this litter (12.14%) is not removed in the first sampling. The unexpected high density of fishing lines suggests specific management actions aimed to periodically remove this neglected anthropogenic litter.

Corrado Battisti, Silvio Kroha, Elina Kozhuharova, Silvia De Michelis, Giuliano Fanelli, Gianluca Poeta, Loris Pietrelli, Fulvio Cerfolli, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, , Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 1000–1007

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Microplastics along the beaches of southeast coast of India

Occurrence of microplastics (plastic debris <5 mm) along the coast is a growing concern worldwide, due to increased input of discarded wastes from various sources. In order to evaluate the extent of microplastic pollution on the sandy beaches (25 locations) along Tamil Nadu coast (1076 km), India, microplastic debris were quantified and categorized into four different size classes. The beaches were classified according to potential sources of pollution i.e. riverine, tourism and fisheries. Beach samples collected from the high tide line contained significantly higher abundance of microplastic than at the low tide line. Beaches adjacent to rivers exhibited relatively higher microplastic abundance compared to those influenced by tourism and fishing activities. Out of the total detected debris, plastic fragments were the maximum (47–50%), followed by line/fibres (24–27%) and foam (10–19%) materials. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis revealed that polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene were the main types of microplastics present in these beaches. Gut content analysis of commercially important fishes, collected from the coastal waters, revealed microplastics ingestion in 10.1% of fishes. The results indicate that microplastics accumulation in the coastal environment, especially close to the river mouths, may be a serious concern, due to its ability to enter into the marine food web and highlights the necessity of microplastics screening from estuarine, coastal waters and other potential sources.

R. Karthik, R.. Robin, R. Purvaja and al., Science of The Total Environment, Volume 645, 15 December 2018, Pages 1388-1399

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Microplastic pollution on Caribbean beaches in the Lesser Antilles

Here we investigate microplastics contamination on beaches of four islands of the Lesser Antilles (Anguilla, St. Barthélemy, St. Eustatius and St. Martin/Maarten). These islands are close to the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, which contains high levels of microplastics. On average 261 ± 6 microplastics/kg of dry sand were found, with a maximum of 620 ± 96 microplastics on Grandes Cayes, Saint Martin. The vast majority of these microplastics (>95%) were fibers. Levels of microplastics differed among islands, with significantly lower levels found in St. Eustatius compared to the other Islands. No difference in microplastic levels was found between windward and leeward beaches. Our research provides a detailed study on microplastics on beaches in the Lesser Antilles. These results are important in developing a deeper understanding of the extent of the microplastic challenge within the Caribbean region, a hotspot of biodiversity.

Thijs Bosker, Lucia Guaita, Paul Behrens, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 133, August 2018, Pages 442–447

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Microplastics on the Portuguese coast

Marine anthropogenic litter was analysed in eleven beaches along the Portuguese coast, over a two-year period (2011−2013). Of all collected items, 99% were plastic and 68% were microplastics (MP; 1–5 mm in diameter). Higher MP concentrations were found in winter/autumn, near industrial areas and/or port facilities and in beaches exposed to dominant winds. Resin pellets (79%) were the dominant category close to industrial areas and high concentrations of fragments and polymeric foams were found near fishing ports. The most frequent pellet size classes were 4 and 5 mm (respectively 47% and 42%). Results suggest that MP have predominately a land-based origin and are deliberately discarded or accidentally lost in watercourses and/or coastal areas. A combination of measures within stakeholders, namely industry and fishing sectors and share of good practices are needed to prevent marine anthropogenic litter.

J. Antunes, J. Frias, P. Sobral, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 131, Part A, June 2018, Pages 294-302

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Sticky tape and simulations help assess microplastic risk

Tiny pieces of plastic, now ubiquitous in the marine environment, have long been a cause of concern for their ability to absorb toxic substances and potentially penetrate the food chain. Now scientists are beginning to understand the level of threat posed to life, by gauging the extent of marine accumulation and tracking the movement of these contaminants. (…)

N. Grover, Horizon EU magazine, 23/04/2018

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Optimising beached litter monitoring protocols through aerial imagery

The monitoring of beached litter along the coast is an onerous obligation enshrined within a number of legislative frameworks (e.g. the MSFD) and which requires substantial human resources in the field. Through this study, we have optimised the protocol for the monitoring of the same litter along coastal stretches within an MPA in the Maltese Islands through aerial drones, with the aim of generating density maps for the beached litter, of assisting in the identification of the same litter and of mainstreaming this type of methodology within national and regional monitoring programmes for marine litter. Concurrent and concomitant in situ monitoring of beached litter enabled us to ground truth the aerial imagery results. Results were finally discussed within the context of current and future MSFD monitoring obligations, with considerations made on possible future policy implications.

A. Deidun, A. Gauci, S. Lagorio, F. Galgani, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 131, Part A, June 2018, Pages 212–217

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