The Plastic Busters MPAs expedition in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos

A team of HCMR scientists involved in the Plastic Busters MPAs project completed two sampling cruises at the National Marine Park of Zakynthos (ZNMP) and the coastal areas of Zakynthos island (East Ionian Sea, Greece) in June and September 2019.

They monitored the abundance of floating microplastics on the sea surface and a total of 20 microlitter manta trawl surveys covering approximately 40 km were carried out. In addition, the team recorded floating macrolitter and the presence of biota through visual observations. Five loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) were spotted inside and outside the marine park. The presence of microplastics in coastal sediments was investigated and for this purpose 14 sediment samples were collected from all studied sites.

Additionally, the ingestion of plastics by endangered species was studied in the ZNMP. Twelve samples of monk seal (Monachus monachus) faeces were collected and analysed for ingested microplastics by the NGO ‘Archipelagos - environment and development’ in collaboration with HCMR. Together with the Ionian University and the University of Crete, 26 breeders and prospectors of the seabird Scopoli’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea) were captured and blood and feathers were sampled for detection of plastic traces and investigation of related ecotoxicological effects. 

Last but not least, in collaboration with the ZNMP Management Body, seafloor and beach clean-up activities coupled with marine litter data recording took place. .

Samples collected for the detection of microplastic ingestion and related ecotoxicological effects:


-fish Mullus surmuletus (144 individuals)


-mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis (270 individuals)


-shore crabs Pachygrapsus marmoratus


-sea urchins Paracentrotus lividus (86 individuals)


The mussels were deployed in cages during the first cruise in June 2019 and were collected on the second cruise in September 2019.


-Samples from common Mediterranean fish species were collected from all studied sites, in order to investigate macro and microplastics ingestion: (e.g. Pagellus erythrinus, Boops, Spicara smaris, Serranus scriba, Bothus podas, Scorpaena scrofa, Diplodus annularis, Synodus saurus, Chelidonichthys lastoviza, Coris julis, Sparisoma cretense)


For further information about the expedition, see: