The IEO Team of PLASTICBUSTERS has attended to MICRO 2018 Fate and Impact of Microplastic: Knowledge, Actions and solutions. This international conference was held at Lanzarote (Islas Canarias, Spain) during November 2018.

The conference was built upon the MICRO 2016 and address the following main topics:

·         Marine Ecosystems
·         Freshwater bodies
·         From MACRO to nano
·         Social Change and behaviour
·         Human health
·         Policy

Salud Deudero (Contact person of the project at the IEO) was part of the Scientific Committee of the Conference.

The general agenda of the conference is attached to this document.The IEO team has done the following presentations:

Plastic debris is Posidonia oceanica spheroides in coastal waters.

Margherita Concato, Montserrat Compa, Carme Alomar, Alberto Aparicio-González, Salud Deudero

Plastic is ubiquitous within the global marine environment, essentially becoming part of the environment and the ecology of these ecosystems. Several studies have documented direct or indirect ingestion of plastic in species due to confusion with preys or through filtering processes (Fossi et al., 2017). In addition, microplastics and plastics have already been identified  floating in coastal areas (Compa et al., 2018). Posidonia oceanica is one of the most important species in coastal ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea providing shelter and resources for other species. According to its live cycle, the root system and leaves shed away forming spheroids of organic material which have the potential to retain other structures such as fish skeletons, sand and other organic and inorganic materials. In this study, a total of 89 Posidonia oceanica spheroides were collected floating at sea in two coastal areas of the Balearic Islands during the summer season 2017. Once at laboratory the perimeter of each spheroide was measured and plastics inside them were visually sorted under stereomicroscope to identify whether marine plastic was becoming part of their internal structure. Preliminary results indicate that 48% of the spheroides from the eastern coast of Mallorca (Cala Ratjada) contained plastics while only 12% of the spheroides from the northern coast (C’an Picafort) had plastics. In addition identified plastics have been validated with ATR-FTIR spectroscopy (Bruker HYPERION 2000) indicating that marine plastics with different polymeric composition are becoming part of these organic structures. Results from this study are important since it could  be indicating a transference of plastics along different sea compartments.

Assessing the overlap between plastics in seafloor habitats and ingested in species

Alomar, Carme., Guijarro, Beatriz., Deudero, Salud.

Keywords: macroplastics, seafloor species ingestion

Microplastic ingestion has already been identified in fish and shark species around the Mediterranean Sea (Fossi et al., 2018). More specifically, demersal species such as Galeus melastomus and Mullus surmuletus have been recorded to ingest microplastics with an occurrence varying between 17% and 27% (Alomar et al., 2017a,b).  At a regional and local scale, some marine species have been proposed as bioindicators of marine litter contamination (Fossi et al., 2018).  To study spatial trends of seafloor plastic as well as its impact on marine biota, integrated data from both ingestion occurrence in species and presence of plastic in habitats should be considered.  In this sense a spatial overlap between seafloor plastic and plastic ingestion in marine organisms has been calculated for different depths around the Balearic Islands. A total of 44 experimental scientific bottom trawl hauls were carried out during spring.  For each haul, plastic was quantified and a total of 54 species corresponding to the same bottom trawl hauls were analyzed for plastic ingestion. Natural factors such as submarine geomorphology, geographical settings and bathymetric stratification varied according to study areas as well as abiotic factors (fishing intensity, maritime traffic).  Preliminary results showed that plastic abundance was higher in the west of the Balearic Islands and that areas exposed to higher anthropogenic activities, such as fishing, do reflect a higher overlap between seafloor plastics and ingestion occurrence in species (Figure 1). In addition, depths between 200 and 500 m had highest quantities of plastics which might have important ecological implications for key species living at these depths. Results from this study allow detecting species and habitats (mud, sand, maërl, rhodophytes, crinoids) more exposed and vulnerable to marine litter pollution.

Spatio-temporal monitoring of coastal marine plastics

Montserrat Compa*, Carme Alomar, Salud Deudero

Coastal ecosystems are continuously affected by anthropogenic threats such as urbanization, maritime activities, recreational and commercial activities, all of which have been prominent sources of plastic marine litter. Plastics are continually entering the marine environment and overtime degrade posing a potential threat to marine wildlife. Global plastic production has risen annually surpassing waste management for most countries. Over recent years, Global plastic  modeling estimates have reported between 15 to 51 trillion plastic particles are currently floating on the sea surface, with remote areas such as the Artic Ocean having over 300 billion plastic fragments (Cózar et al., 2017; van Sebille et al., 2015a) with the Mediterranean Sea having concentrations similar to those of the 5 gyres. Currently in the Mediterranean Sea, the concentration of plastic particles is between 0.116 – 0.40 items/m2 weighing an estimated 671.91-2020 g/km2. The current study aims to quantify and identify the spatial distribution of marine plastics over time in coastal ecosystems of the Island of Mallorca in the archipelago of the Balearic Islands located in the Western Mediterranean Sea. Sea surface samples were collected during summer months in 2017 (July, August and September) at seven locations across the island within 500 meters of the coastline. Three samples at each location were collected for posterior quantification of floating plastics at the laboratory to assess autocorrelation within sampling locations. Plastic items was observed in all collected samples of varying sizes, ranging from macro- (> 25 mm), meso- (5-25 mm) and micro-plastics (< 5 mm), composed principally of fragments, films and filaments. Despite initial results show plastics were present in the sea surface at all sampling locations surrounding the island, no significant differences were seen between locations (KW, p > 0.05). These preliminary results indicate the coastal marine plastic concentrations are similar to those found offshore in the Western Mediterranean Sea.