Anthropogenic microlitter in the Baltic Sea water column

Microlitter (0.5–5 mm) concentrations in water column (depth range from 0 to 217.5 m) of the main Baltic Proper basins are reported. In total, 95 water samples collected in 6 research cruises in 2015–2016 in the Bornholm, Gdansk, and Gotland basins were analysed. Water from 10- and 30-litre Niskin bathometers was filtered through the 174 μm filters, and the filtrate was examined under optical microscope (40 ×). The bulk mean concentration was 0.40 ± 0.58 items per litre, with fibres making 77% of them. Other types of particles are the paint flakes (19%) and fragments (4%); no microbeads or pellets. The highest concentrations are found in the near-bottom samples from the coastal zone (2.2–2.7 items per litre max) and from near-surface waters (0.5 m) in the Bornholm basin (5 samples, 1.6–2.5 items per litre). Distribution of particles over depths, types, and geographical regions is presented.

A. Bagaev, L. Khatmullina, I. Chubarenko, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 26 October 2017, In Press

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Beach litter dynamics on Mediterranean coasts: Distinguishing sources and pathways

We assessed amounts, composition and net accumulation rates every ~ 15 days of beach macro litter (≥ 2.5 cm) on 4 Mediterranean beaches, on Corfu island, N. Ionian Sea, taking into account natural and anthropogenic drivers. Average net accumulation rate on all beaches was found 142 ± 115 N/100 m/15 d. By applying a Generalized Linear Model (GzLM) it was shown that sea transport is the dominant pathway affecting the amount and variability in beach litter loadings. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) on compositional data and indicator items discerned two more pathways of beach litter, i.e. in situ litter from beach goers and wind and/or runoff transport of litter from land. By comparing the PCA results to those from a simple item to source attribution, it is shown that regardless their source litter items arrive at beaches from various pathways. Our data provide baseline knowledge for designing monitoring strategies and for setting management targets.

Michael Prevenios, Christina Zeri, Catherine Tsangaris and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 10 October 2017, In Press

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Marine litter at the seafloor – Abundance and composition in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea

Litter is present in all marine waters around the globe. It consists of several compound classes of which plastic is of special interest because of its high abundance and possible threat to marine organisms. The regional distribution, composition and abundance of large litter items (LI) at the sea floor of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea were investigated based on 175 bottom trawls between 2013 and 2015. Different types of marine litter > 2.5 cm were classified according to the protocol of the ICES International Bottom Trawl Survey. The results showed considerable geographical variation: In the North Sea, a mean litter abundance of 16.8 LI/km2 was found, whereas the litter abundance in the Baltic Sea was significantly lower (5.07 LI/km2). In general, plastic represented 80% of the litter items. During the study, some methodical aspects with possible impact on the results were identified that need to be addressed in future sampling campaigns.

Ulrike Kammann, Marc-Oliver Aust, Horst Bahl, Thomas Lang, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 12 October 2017, In Press

The article

Amount, composition, and spatial distribution of floating macro litter along fixed trans-border transects in the Mediterranean basin

Marine litter is a major source of pollution in the Mediterranean basin, but despite legislative requirements, scant information is available for the ongoing assessment of this threat.

Using higher size classes as proxy for litter distribution, this study gave a synoptic estimation of the amount, composition, and distribution of floating macro-litter in the Mediterranean. The average amount of macro-litter was in a range of 2–5 items/km2, with the highest in the Adriatic basin. Seasonal patterns were present in almost all study areas and were significant in the Ligurian Sea, Sardinian-Balearic basin, and Central Tyrrhenian Sea. Plastic accounted for > 80% of litter in all areas and seasons, with the highest proportion in the Adriatic Sea, Ligurian Sea, and Sicilian-Sardinian Channels; in the Bonifacio Strait, Tyrrhenian Sea, and Sardinian-Balearic basin, litter composition was instead more diverse. Spatial analysis suggested an almost homogeneous distribution of litter without evident regular aggregation zones.

Arcangeli Antonella, Campana Ilaria, Angeletti Dario and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 16 October 2017, In Press

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Citizen scientists reveal: Marine litter pollutes Arctic beaches and affects wild life

Recent data indicate accumulation areas of marine litter in Arctic waters and significant increases over time. Beaches on remote Arctic islands may be sinks for marine litter and reflect pollution levels of the surrounding waters particularly well. We provide the first quantitative data from surveys carried out by citizen scientists on six beaches of Svalbard. Litter quantities recorded by cruise tourists varied from 9–524 g m− 2 and were similar to those from densely populated areas. Plastics accounted for > 80% of the overall litter, most of which originated from fisheries. Photographs provided by citizens show deleterious effects of beach litter on Arctic wildlife, which is already under strong pressure from global climate change. Our study highlights the potential of citizen scientists to provide scientifically valuable data on the pollution of sensitive remote ecosystems. The results stress once more that current legislative frameworks are insufficient to tackle the pollution of Arctic ecosystems.

Melanie Bergmann, Birgit Lutz, Mine B. Tekman, Lars Gutow, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 28 September 2017, In Press

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Solutions for global marine litter pollution

Since the 1950s the amount of plastics in the marine environment has increased dramatically. Worldwide there is a growing concern about the risks and possible adverse effects of (micro)plastics. This paper reflects on the sources and effects of marine litter and the effects of policies and other actions taken worldwide. Current knowledge offers a solid basis for effective action. Yet, so far the effects of policies and other initiatives are still largely insufficient. The search for appropriate responses could be based on possible interventions and profound understanding of the context specific factors for success. Moreover, the scope, timeframe and dynamics of all initiatives are distinctly different and orchestration at all levels, in close cooperation with one another is currently lacking.</p

Ansje Löhr, Heidi Savelli, Raoul Beunen and al., Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 28, October 2017, Pages 90-99

The article

Microplastics – a review of existing knowledge

CEH ecotoxicologist, Alice Horton, delivered a lecture entitled ‘Microplastics – what we know?’ at the CIWEM Priority Substances and Micro-Pollutants in London on September 14, 2017.

In this recording, Alice provides a primer on microplastics, then reviews existing knowledge regarding the key sources of microplastics through to environmental fate and associated ecological and human health impacts. She also provides a background to UK policy.

She then explores microplastics within freshwater environments, her specific research area, and identifies the key research questions that should be investigated. (CEH, 19/09/2017)

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