An estimation of the average residence times and onshore-offshore diffusivities of beached microplastics based on the population decay of tagged meso- and macrolitter

Residence times of microplastics were estimated based on the dependence of meso- and macrolitter residence times on their upward terminal velocities (UTVs) in the ocean obtained by one- and two-year mark-recapture experiments conducted on Wadahama Beach, Nii-jima Island, Japan. A significant linear relationship between the residence time and UTV was found in the velocity range of about 0.3–0.9 ms− 1, while there was no significant difference between the residence times obtained in the velocity range of about 0.9–1.4 ms− 1. This dependence on the UTV would reflect the uprush-backwash response of the target items to swash waves on the beach. By extrapolating the linear relationship down to the velocity range of microplastics, the residence times of microplastics and the 1D onshore-offshore diffusion coefficients were inferred, and are one to two orders of magnitude greater than the coefficients of the macroplastics.

Hirofumi Hinata, Keita Mori, Kazuki Ohno, Yasuyuki Miyao, Tomoya Kataoka, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 16 June 2017, In Press

The article

Beach litter sourcing: A trawl along the Northern Ireland coastline

Fourteen non-recreational coastal locations in Northern Ireland were investigated as to whether beach litter deposition was related to seasonal or site specific factors. Litter items were counted in 100 m width transects and 1 km strand-line surveys over a five-season period (autumn to autumn). Survey sites comprised fishing ports; estuarine areas, north (high energy) and east coast (low energy) beaches. Fishing ports accumulated the most litter. In the 100 m beach surveys, plastics, string and cord, bottle caps, food items, rope, and drink containers dominated. In strand-line surveys, large plastic pieces were dominant, followed by rope, string and cord, strapping bands (absent on beach surveys), cloth, wood (mainly pallets, fish boxes) and metal items. Multivariate analyses revealed major litter category differences between the ports and all other sites, with a lesser distinction between exposed and estuarine sites. There was no simple coastline trend and no apparent effect of seasonality between samples.

A.T. Williams, P. Randerson, C. Allen, J.A.G. Cooper, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 17 June 2017, In Press

The article

Characterization of plastic beach debris finalized to its removal: a proposal for a recycling scheme

Characterization of beach debris is crucial to assess the strategy to answer questions such as recycling. With the aim to assess its use in a recycling scheme, in this note, we carried out a physical and chemical characterization of plastic litter from a pilot beach in Central Italy, using the FT-IR spectroscopy and thermoanalysis. Fourteen polymers, having mainly thermoplastic origin, were identified; among them, the most represented are polyethylene (41.7%) and polypropylene (36.9%). Chemical and mechanical degradation were clearly observed by an IR spectrum. The thermogravimetric analysis curve of the plastic blend shows the melting point at 120–140 °C, and degradation occurs almost totally in a one-step process within 300–500 °C. The high heating value of the plastic debris is 43.9 MJ kg−1. Polymer blends obtained by beach debris show mechanical properties similar to the virgin high-density polyethylene polymer. Following the beach plastic debris characterization, a recycling scheme was suggested.

Loris Pietrelli, Gianluca Poeta, Corrado Battisti, Maria Sighicelli, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 07 June 2017, pp 1–7

Development and application of an Integrated Beach Quality Index (BQI)

The quality of beaches is a very important factor for attracting tourists. Continuous improvement of beach quality is an important goal for coastal countries such as Italy, where “beach and sun” tourism is a prominent contributor to the economy. The challenge for beach managers is both to protect the environmental quality of beaches and improve the quality of tourist experience. An integrated Beach Quality Index (BQI) to evaluate “Environmental Quality” and “Human Welfare & Health” was designed. It was applied to three different types of beaches, (urban, semi-urban and semi-rural), on the Adriatic coast. The BQI allowed an assessment of (i) the overall beach quality; (ii) individual aspects of beach quality on three types of beaches; (iii) the main strengths and weaknesses of the study beaches; and (iv) priorities for future management. The overall quality was evaluated as “Excellent” at the Cesenatico Levante – Porto Canale Sud (urban) and Marina di Ravenna (semi-urban) beaches and as “Good” at Bellocchio (semi-rural) beach. However, some of the individual aspects of beach quality had lower values, which show a potential for improvement through onsite management. The composite index is a useful tool for evaluating beach quality and to support the decision making process. It identified possible management responses for improving the beach quality of the study sites to propose to the responsible authorities. Moreover, it can significantly contribute to the development of Beach Management Framework aimed to support an effective management of individual beaches, enhance beach tourism, boost income, and in long term, to support a sustainable development of coastal areas.

Vera Semeoshenkova, Alice Newton, Andrea Contin, Nicolas Greggio, Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 143, 1 July 2017, Pages 74–86

The article

Through the sands of time: Beach litter trends from nine cleaned north cornish beaches

Marine litter and its accumulation on beaches is an issue of major current concern due to its significant environmental and economic impacts. Yet our understanding of spatio-temporal trends in beach litter and the drivers of these trends are currently limited by the availability of robust long term data sets. Here we present a unique data set collected systematically once a month, every month over a six year period for nine beaches along the North Coast of Cornwall, U.K. to investigate the key drivers of beach litter in the Bude, Padstow and Porthcothan areas. Overall, an average of 0.02 litter items m−2 per month were collected during the six year study, with Bude beaches (Summerleaze, Crooklets and Widemouth) the most impacted (0.03 ± 0.004 litter items m−2 per month). The amount of litter collected each month decreased by 18% and 71% respectively for Padstow (Polzeath, Trevone and Harlyn) and Bude areas over the 6 years, possibly related to the regular cleaning, however litter increased by 120% despite this monthly cleaning effort on the Padstow area beaches. Importantly, at all nine beaches the litter was dominated by small, fragmented plastic pieces and rope fibres, which account for 32% and 17% of all litter items collected, respectively. The weathered nature of these plastics indicates they have been in the marine environment for an extended period of time. So, whilst classifying the original source of these plastics is not possible, it can be concluded they are not the result of recent public littering. This data highlights both the extent of the marine litter problem and that current efforts to reduce littering by beach users will only tackle a fraction of this litter. Such information is vital for developing effective management strategies for beach and marine litter at both regional and global levels.

Andrew J.R. Watts, Adam Porter, Neil Hembrow, Jolyon Sharpe, Tamara S. Galloway, Ceri Lewis, Environmental Pollution, Volume 228, September 2017, Pages 416–424

The article

Exceptional and rapid accumulation of anthropogenic debris on one of the world’s most remote and pristine islands

In just over half a century plastic products have revolutionized human society and have infiltrated terrestrial and marine environments in every corner of the globe. The hazard plastic debris poses to biodiversity is well established, but mitigation and planning are often hampered by a lack of quantitative data on accumulation patterns. Here we document the amount of debris and rate of accumulation on Henderson Island, a remote, uninhabited island in the South Pacific. The density of debris was the highest reported anywhere in the world, up to 671.6 items/m2 (mean ± SD: 239.4 ± 347.3 items/m2) on the surface of the beaches. Approximately 68% of debris (up to 4,496.9 pieces/m2) on the beach was buried <10 cm in the sediment. An estimated 37.7 million debris items weighing a total of 17.6 tons are currently present on Henderson, with up to 26.8 new items/m accumulating daily. Rarely visited by humans, Henderson Island and other remote islands may be sinks for some of the world’s increasing volume of waste.

Jennifer L. Lavers, Alexander L. Bond, PNAS, May 15, 2017, Early edition

The article

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