• Marine litter research expedition in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos

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Plastic Busters MPAs has elaborated a harmonized approach for monitoring marine litter in Mediterranean pelagic and coastal MPAs towards assessing the impact on biodiversity including endangered species. This approach was tested in June 2019 at the National Marine Park of Zakynthos (Greece) by the Institute of Oceanography and the Institute of Marine Biological Resources and Inland Waters of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research.

The National Marine Park is part of the Natura 2000 protected areas network and is one of the most important habitats for the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta. In fact this is the first national park established for the protection of sea turtles in the Mediterranean.

Visit the official webpage ©text: www.nmp-zak.org/en

The sampling activity in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos took place from the 31st May to 5th June 2019


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The research team kicked-off the expedition on the 31st of May in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos and other coastal areas in the eastern Ionian Sea.



They carried out 10 floating micro-litter surveys, covering a distance of 20 km. 

floating micro-litter surveys

km covered



During the expedition, hydrographic measurements and sediments sampling for micro-plastic analysis were carried out.




The RESEARCH TEAM also monitored floating macro-litter and the presence of biota. 


Three sea turtles were sighted in National Marine Park and a herd of tuna fishes was spotted in the eastern coastal area of Zakynthos. 


The IO team deployed cages with mussels in six sites inside and outside the National Marine Park of Zakynthos, in order to detect potential impacts of plastics on this bioindicator species.

Some 100 individuals of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis were caged in each location.
For the same purpose the team sampled in situ invertebrate species, such as mussels.

The team also sampled sea urchins from 3 locations, within and outside the area of the marine park.
In total, 65 Paracentrotus lividus specimens were collected. 
Last but not least, the team conducted fish sampling and processed the samples on board for eco-toxicological analyses. In total, 93 Mullus surmuletus specimens were collected for microplastic detection and ecotoxicological effects evaluation.
Various fish species such as Pagellus erythrinus, Spicara smaris, Serranus scriba, Bothus podas, Scorpaena scrofa, Diplodus annularis, Synodus saurus, Chelidonichthys lastoviza, Coris julis were also sampled by the IMBRIW team for plastics detection. 

The marinE litter research expedition also focuses on the sampling of endangered species such as monk seals or some Seabirds species.