Microplastics pollution in Falklands as high as UK

November 27, 2018

The first study to investigate microplastics around Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands - two of the most remote locations in the South Atlantic Ocean - has found levels of contamination comparable with the waters around the UK.

The research, led by Dr Dannielle Green of Anglia Ruskin University, involved sampling at 11 sites on the Falkland Islands and six sites on Ascension Island, as well as locations in Northern Ireland (Strangford Lough) and South West England (Plymouth Sound).

The study, the results of which have been published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, found high levels of microplastic litter at every site sampled around Ascension Island and the Falklands, with the results including microfibres such as nylon and polyester.

Dr Green, Senior Lecturer in Biology at Anglia Ruskin University, said: "Identifying the source of microplastics is difficult, but some of the fibres found in this study had the appearance of weathered fragments of ropes or fishing nets. The Falklands have a relatively sizeable fishing industry, with an annual catch of around 270,000 tonnes per year, but the same cannot be said of Ascension.

"Ascension Island has a population of less than 1,000 people and is incredibly remote, located 1,000 miles off the coast of Africa and 1,400 miles from South America. However, we found levels of microplastics comparable, and in some cases greater, than levels found in the waters around mainland UK.

"Recent studies have found microplastics trapped in Arctic Sea ice and in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. Our research adds to the evidence implying that ocean currents are carrying microplastics to some of the remotest and least populated parts of the world."

The study also compared different methods of monitoring microplastics, and found that using a one litre container combined with a fine filter was a more effective method for capturing smaller microplastics.

Scientists currently use a variety of nets, such as plankton, bongo and manta nets, but Dr Green believes that the size of the mesh is leading to an underestimation of the concentrations of microplastics in seawater.

Dr Green added: "We believe that using a standard one litre bottle and a fine filter is an appropriate and effective way to monitor microplastic contamination, and could be coupled with net methods in order to capture the smaller and larger items. It can be added to existing environmental surveys with relatively little effort, and also helps to promote more standardised monitoring in the future."
-end-


Anglia Ruskin University

Related Microplastics Articles from Brightsurf:

Sheep show the contamination by microplastics in the agricultural soils of Murcia
A team from the Diverfarming project has found microplastics in 92% of the faeces of sheep fed in intensive agricultural zones of Murcia that they analysed

Microplastics in the death zone
Researchers from the University of Plymouth's International Marine Litter Research Unit have identified the highest recorded microplastics ever found on Earth - at an altitude of more than 8,000 metres, close to the summit of Mount Everest.

There are microplastics near the top of Mount Everest too
Researchers analyzing snow and stream samples from the National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition have found evidence of microplastic pollution on Mount Everest.

Microplastics in groundwater (and our drinking water) present unknown risk
Microplastics (plastics <5mm) and their negative health impacts have been studied in oceans, rivers, and even soils, and scientists are beginning to grapple with the myriad human health impacts their presence might have.

High levels of microplastics released from infant feeding bottles during formula prep
New research shows that high levels of microplastics (MPs) are released from infant-feeding bottles (IFBs) during formula preparation.

There is at least 10 times more plastic in the Atlantic than previously thought
Scientists measured 12-21 million tonnes of three of the most common types of plastic in the top 200 metres of the Atlantic.

'Critical' questions over disease risks from ocean plastics
Key knowledge gaps exist in our understanding of how ocean microplastics transport bacteria and viruses -- and whether this affects the health of humans and animals, researchers say.

Seafood study finds plastic in all samples
A study of five different seafoods has found traces of plastic in every sample tested.

Maldives records highest level of micro plastics on the planet
The amount of micro plastic pollution in waters around the Maldives, a global tourist hotspot known for its beautiful coastline, is amongst the highest in the world and has the potential to severely impact marine life in shallow reefs and threaten the livelihoods of island communities.

Plastics found in sea-bed sharks
Microplastics have been found in the guts of sharks that live near the seabed off the UK coast.

Read More: Microplastics News and Microplastics Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.