ArticlePDF Available

Plastic microfibre ingestion by deep-sea organisms


Abstract and Figures

Plastic waste is a distinctive indicator of the world-wide impact of anthropogenic activities. Both macro- and micro-plastics are found in the ocean, but as yet little is known about their ultimate fate and their impact on marine ecosystems. In this study we present the first evidence that microplastics are already becoming integrated into deep-water organisms. By examining organisms that live on the deep-sea floor we show that plastic microfibres are ingested and internalised by members of at least three major phyla with different feeding mechanisms. These results demonstrate that, despite its remote location, the deep sea and its fragile habitats are already being exposed to human waste to the extent that diverse organisms are ingesting microplastics.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Scientific RepoRts | 6:33997 | DOI: 10.1038/srep33997
Plastic microbre ingestion by
deep-sea organisms
M. L. Taylor1, C. Gwinnett2, L. F. Robinson3 & L. C. Woodall1,4
Plastic waste is a distinctive indicator of the world-wide impact of anthropogenic activities. Both macro-
and micro-plastics are found in the ocean, but as yet little is known about their ultimate fate and their
impact on marine ecosystems. In this study we present the rst evidence that microplastics are already
becoming integrated into deep-water organisms. By examining organisms that live on the deep-sea
oor we show that plastic microbres are ingested and internalised by members of at least three major
phyla with dierent feeding mechanisms. These results demonstrate that, despite its remote location,
the deep sea and its fragile habitats are already being exposed to human waste to the extent that
diverse organisms are ingesting microplastics.
ere appears to be no environment on Earth that has escaped plastic pollution. Indeed, despite the distance from
land, plastics are ubiquitous in remote marine environments, including polar regions1,2. ese plastics are known
to cause impacts to terrestrial and marine ecosystems both at the macro- and micro-scale. For example, ingestion
of plastic debris or entanglement has been recorded in 44–50% of all seabirds3, sea snakes, sea turtles (all species),
penguins, seals, sea lions, manatees, sea otters, sh, crustaceans and half of all marine mammals3–5. Ingestion can
block the digestive tract, damage stomach lining and lessen feeding, all leading to starvation (reviewed in ref. 4).
Of growing concern are microplastics (typically dened as < 5 mm6). e large surface area-to-volume ratio of
microplastics, compared to macroplastics, means they concentrate persistent organic pollutants which can be
up to six orders of magnitude more contaminated than ambient seawater7 and absorb metals8,9. e subsequent
transfer of such pollutants and additives from microplastics to marine organisms has been conrmed under
experimental conditions6,10,11. However, the ecological eects on marine organisms in the wild is understudied
and not yet conclusive12.
It has already been shown that microplastics are ingested by large pelagic marine organisms such as
lter-feeding salps13, tuna14, and whales15,16. However, only a few observations have demonstrated that microplas-
tics are being ingested in natural settings by benthic organisms, mostly in shallow coastal waters. ese obser-
vations include organisms with dierent feeding strategies. Organisms such as the detritivorous and predatory
lobster17,18 and shrimp19 presumably consume microplastic passively with prey (or in the prey itself) and/or
sediment. Deposit-feeding lugworms20 likely consume microplastic that are within sediment, and suspension/
lter-feeding mussels likely take in plastics that are suspended in sea water20. In a natural setting microplas-
tics have been found in the stomach21,22, oral23 and ventilation areas22,24 of shallow-water organisms; and on the
outer surface of deep water octocoral25. Laboratory studies suggest that benthic and invertebrate taxa, including
corals23, copepods21, zooplankton26, crabs24,27, molluscs6, sea cucumbers28, scallops29, barnacles30, oyster31, lug-
worms and polychaetes10,32 will ingest microplastics if they are introduced under experimental conditions. e
eects across this range of organisms included reductions in fecundity21, lower feeding rates26, enhanced suscep-
tibility to oxidative stress, reduced ability to remove pathogenic bacteria10, reduced feeding activities27,33, reduced
energy reserves and balance27,32, and decreased lysome stability22. e results of these studies are not yet conclu-
sive, but the sum of existing laboratory experiments, most of which use microbeads and not microbres, high-
light the detrimental eects of microplastics in a broad range of benthic taxa and the importance of considering
organism biology e.g. low metabolism27, feeding method33 and behaviour.
e ultimate fate of microplastics that reach the deep-sea realm is also not as well studied as in shallow waters.
Recently, microplastics have been identied in the deep and abyssal oceans25,34,35, the largest marine habitat on
the planet. ese studies suggested that deep-sea microplastics are already being found in similar concentrations
as intertidal and shallow sub-tidal sediments25. e rate of accumulation of microplastics in the deep sea has not
1Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.
2Department of Forensic and Crime Science, Staordshire University, Stoke-On-Trent ST4 2DF, UK. 3School of Earth
Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1RJ, UK. 4Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, London
SW7 5BD, UK. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.L.T. (email: michelle.taylor@
Received: 13 May 2016
Accepted: 01 September 2016
Published: 30 September 2016
Scientific RepoRts | 6:33997 | DOI: 10.1038/srep33997
been researched, neither has impacts on deep-sea organisms. However, given the ever-increasing plastic load
reaching our oceans36, and that a large portion of plastics will likely eventually end up on or buried in the seaoor,
the potential is there for an unseen pervasive impact on deep-marine ecosystems.
As yet, there have been no studies to establish whether organisms of the deep sea will ingest microplastics or
what the impacts may be. Indeed, impact studies will be even more challenging in the deep sea than for shallow
marine organisms given the logistical constraints of studying life hundreds to thousands of metres beneath the
waves. Here we use specimens collected from two deep submergence research cruises to two dierent ocean
basins to show for the rst time that deep-sea organisms from at least three dierent phyla are ingesting and /or
internalising plastic microbres.
All microplastics found in this study were microbres (e.g. Fig.1c,d), not microbeads. All bres (15) were of
dierent classes and were constructed from 1 of 5 dierent materials (modied acrylic, polypropylene, viscose,
polyester, and acrylic). is variability between samples provides evidence that there was limited or no contami-
nation as there was no consistency in microbres across expedition or organism. In a wider study of microbres
from the deep-sea37 just 2 of the 52 classes of plastics found in samples were found in contamination monitoring
eorts; this minimal overlap makes it unlikely, given the same protocols were followed, that the microbres from
within organisms presented here are the results of contamination. In addition, following Woodall et al.37 clean
room protocols, monitoring of potential laboratory contamination using dampened lter papers indicated that
there were no synthetic bres contaminating the laboratory used for dissection.
Plastic microbres were found on and inside six of the nine organisms examined (Table1), including exam-
ples of taxa from the phyla Cnidaria, Echinodermata and Arthropoda. Specically microbres were found inside
either oral areas (seapen tentacles and upper mesentry, JC094-3717, Figs1a and 2a–c), feeding apparatus (hermit
crab maxilliped, see Fig.2f,g; JC066-702), symbiotic zoanthid tentacles (zoanthid on hermit crab, JC066-702,
Figs1b and 2g), gill (squat lobster, JC094-771) or stomach areas (sea cucumber, JC094-212, Fig.2h). Similar to24,
one of the Crustacea studied (squat lobster, JC094-771) had microbres in the gut and in the ventilation/gill areas.
Microbres were not found inside zoanthids that were covering a bamboo coral skeleton (Fig.2d,e; JC094-767)
but were found externally. No microbres were found in or associated with the anemone, armoured sea cucumber
or other octocoral investigated.
Microbres inside deep-sea organisms were found from 334–1783 m depth in the equitorial mid-Atlantic and
954–1062 m in the SW Indian Ocean (Fig.3). Previous studies have found microbres in sediments down to
2000 m in the subpolar North Atlantic, 2200 m in the NE Atlantic, 3500 m in the Mediterranean and 5768 m in the
West Pacic35. Most deep-sea organisms rely either directly or indirectly on the supply of organic detritus from
the euphotic zone, oen called ‘marine snow’. Our conrmation of biological integration of microplastics makes
recent evidence of a shi towards smaller plastic size categories, equivalent to the ‘marine snow’ size38, something
now particularly relevant for deep-sea organisms.
In the few instances where they have been studied in deep sea sediments, microplastics occur in similar con-
centrations as in inter-tidal and shallow sub-tidal sediments25. Enders, et al.39 recently modelled microplastic
distribution to 250 m depth but there is no raw data from deep-sea water columns on the High Seas. We assume
that microplastics in sediment represent a vertical accumulation from falling ‘marine snow’25. We observed that
the suspension-feeding anemone, armoured sea cucumber and octocoral had no microbre load, although bres
were found inside the suspension-feeding sea pen and zoanthid from the SW Indian Ocean (Table1, Fig.3). By
contrast bres were found in all predatory, deposit and detritivore feeders examined. If this general observation
(albeit based on very few samples), of lter-feeders having lower microplastic loads, holds true more widely, the
implication is that deposit-feeding organisms may be more vulnerable to microplastic ingestion than suspension
feeders. Of course, load depends on a wide range of factors, such as an animal’s ability to avoid microplastic inges-
tion, any size or shape-selection of food particles etc. and the abundance and density of microplastics found in an
organisms environment. Knowledge of background microplastic load, systematic surveys with multiple replicates
of sediment, seawater collections and sampling of deep-sea organisms across a range of feeding strategies would
be required to test if feeding strategy alone impacts organism vulnerability to microplastic ingestion.
Despite microbres being the majority of microplastic pollution40,41, including in the deep-sea25,35, most feed-
ing experiments that have been undertaken thus far use microbeads and plastic shavings, with a few exceptions,
Hämer, et al.42, Watts, et al.27, Au, et al.43. Our study shows for the rst time that deep-sea organisms are ingesting
microbres in a natural setting, thus we suggest that experimental designs using bres are needed to determine
the potential long-term impact of microplastics for both shallow and deep marine organisms.
e range of plastic microbres found ingested/internalised by organisms studied here included modied
acrylic, polypropylene, viscose, polyester, and acrylic. Polypropylene has been found to adsorb PCBs (polychlo-
rinated biphenyls), nonylphenol and DDE, an organochlorine pesticide7. Polyethylene, a type of polyolen bre
whose chemical composition in part is the basis of some polyester bres (e.g. polyethylene terephthalate), has
been found to adsorb four times more PCBs than polypropylene44. Polypropylene has also been found to adsorb
a range of metals in a marine environment; the concentrations of most of these metals did not saturate over a
year period suggesting plastics in the oceans for long time periods accumulate greater concentrations of metals9.
Chemical contamination experiments are rare in the marine environment, and oen present unrealistic
experimental scenarios45. Yet with the chemical ingredients in 50% of plastics listed as hazardous (United Nations’
Globally Harmonized System of Classication and Labelling of Chemicals) such issues maybe just the start of
Scientific RepoRts | 6:33997 | DOI: 10.1038/srep33997
long-term ecological and health problems associated with waste plastics in the environment46; impacts that have
not been looked at in many marine animals6,10,11 and no deep-sea animals as yet.
Of course, ingestion, and any subsequent biological impacts, depend on many factors32 including characteristics
of the microplastics themselves, such as size, shape, density, abundance (as seen in shallow water sea cucumbers28),
colour, and importantly, dierential adsorption of harmful substances7, as well as organism physiology, ecology
Figure 1. Images of specimens in situ (a,b) and close-up images of microplastic bres exhibiting their interference
colours (used to aide classication) under cross-polarised illumination (c) and under plain polarised light (d); (a)
sea pen, JC066-3717; (b) hermit crab with zoanthid symbionts, JC066-702; (c) polyester microbre, JC066-702-09;
(d) acrylic microbre, JC066-702-10. Images (a,b) taken by MLT. Images (c,d) taken by CG.
Scientific RepoRts | 6:33997 | DOI: 10.1038/srep33997
and behaviour; this also includes whether microplastics accumulate in the organism, feeding method and/or
prey of organisms, and where microplastics accumulate, or are egested and/or translocate within the organism.
A nal factor is whether transfer of the microplastic up the food chain is a possibility. All of these facets of the
microplastic biological impact problem are relevant to deep-sea organisms however as science knows less about
deep-sea biology and ecology (as there are fewer experimental opportunities in this challenging environment)
these aspects of marine pollution will be relatively dicult to pursue.
Shallow-water experiments have found microplastic bioaccumulation e.g. lobster17, mussel and oyster47. Given
that our data are a snapshot of the bres within six organisms we cannot determine whether microbres are
bioaccumulating. Five microbres was the most found within one organism (the hermit crab, JC066-702) and not
in a ball as was seen in the lobster Nephrops17 and crab, Carcinus maenas27. is could suggest that microplastics
are transient within the organisms studied. Or, this could be indicative of low densities of microplastics in the
deep-sea feeding areas of organisms studied here, or that microbres have dierent residency times to other more
intensively studied microplastics (e.g. microbeads), or that the organisms here have dierent gut residency times
to other organisms studied. It may also be that certain feeding strategies convey less suspectibility to microplastic
bioaccummulation. Given the low number of organisms it was possible to sample here, and without concurrent
environmental sampling, the link between background microplastic densities and microplastic abundance within
organisms is not possible to establish.
Studied organisms have a range of feeding mechanisms, from suspension feeding (sea pens, zoanthids, anemo-
nes, barnacles, armoured sea cucumbers) to deposit feeders (sea cucumbers), detritivores and predators (hermit
crabs, squat lobsters). Given the breadth of feeding strategies found in deep-sea organisms and their reliance
Sample ID Organism ID Phylum Organism Loca lity Depth (m) Fibre ID Material Class§
JC094-201 Anemone Cnidaria Equatorial mid-Atlantic 836 None N/A N/A
JC094-224 Armoured
holothurian (sea
cucumber) Echinodermata Equatorial mid-Atlantic 671 None N/A N/A
JC066-3155 Octocoral -
Anthomastus Cnidaria SW Indian Ocean 562 None N/A N/A
JC094-212 Holothurian (sea
cucumber) Echinodermata Equatorial mid-Atlantic 334
212-1 Natural
212-2 Modied Acrylic 1
212-3 Natural
212-4 Cotton
212-5 Cotton
212-6 Polyprop1
JC094-771 Squat Lobster Arthropoda Equatorial mid-Atlantic 611
771-1 Natural
771-2 Viscose 1
771-3 Cotton
771-4 Polyester 4
771-5 Viscose 2
771-6 Natural
*JC094-767 Zoanthid on
bamboo coral Cnidaria Equatorial mid-Atlantic 1783
767-1 Viscose 4
767-2 Natural
767-3 Natural
JC066-3717 Sea pen (octocoral) Cnidaria SW Indian Ocean 954
3717-1 Viscose 3
3717-2 Natural
3717-3 Natural
3717-4 Polyester 1
JC066-702 Hermit Crab Arthropoda SW Indian Ocean 1062
702-1 Acrylic 1
702-2 Synthetic (nylon or
polyethylene) 1
702-3 Natural
702-4 Natural
702-5 Natural
702-6 Polyester 2
702-7 Polyprop2
702-8 Acrylic 2
JC066-702 Zoanthid Cnidaria SW Indian Ocean 1062 702-9 Modied acrylic 2
702-10 Polyester 3
Table 1. Organisms examined for microplastics. *Fibres found on exterior of organism. §Fibre classes
dierentiated as in ref. 37 (Table S1). polyprop is an abbreviation of polypropylene.
Scientific RepoRts | 6:33997 | DOI: 10.1038/srep33997
on ‘marine snow’ (which is the same size fraction as microplastics), and evidence of ingestion in shallow-water
counterparts, there is a high likelihood of microplastic ingestion across a wider range of taxa than presented here.
However, without the context of environmental sampling of microplastics (water and sediment) or investigations
into the impacts of the chemicals ingested, it is not easy to understand the impact microplastic presence will have
Figure 2. Organisms found to have ingested microbres and microbres in situ; (a) blue microbre from
mouth area of sea pen polyp (b) sea pen, JC066-3717; (c) example sea pen polyp; (d) black mirobre embedded
in surface of zoanthid; (e) zoanthids on bamboo coral skeleton, JC094-767; (f) blue microbre on feeding
maxilliped of hermit crab; (g) hermit crab, JC066-702, with symbiotic zoanthid; (h) sea cucumber, JC094-212.
Images taken by MLT.
Scientific RepoRts | 6:33997 | DOI: 10.1038/srep33997
Figure 3. Microplastic presence by material and depth, (a) mid-Atlantic data from JC094; (b) SW Indian
Ocean data from JC066; (c) depth of all other known deep-sea microbres found in sediments represented by
grey bars.
Figure 4. Map showing all known deep-sea microbre collection locations (sediment cores from25,
unpublished sediment core results from JC094, West Pacic microbres from35, specimens – white circles
- are from this study). Labels refer to specimen codes of organisms (see Table1). Map made with ArcGIS
Scientific RepoRts | 6:33997 | DOI: 10.1038/srep33997
on biology, and subsequently ecology, of deep-sea organisms. Broadly, the important individual organism eects
of microplastic ingestion are being investigated (albeit mostly with microbeads rather than the more commonly
found microbres) but, given the ubiquity of microplastics in our marine environments, research should start
considering population and ecosystem level eects48 such as dierential age/cohort survival causing demographic
shis, food/prey shis, hazard to human foods, taxa specic vulnerability etc; this is a dicult task in any marine
environment, most especially the deep-sea, regardless it is still an important challenge to undertake.
Materials and Methods
e organisms were collected using the manipulator arm and suction hose of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV)
on expeditions on the R.R.S. James Cook in the SW Indian Ocean (JC066 in 2011) and equatorial mid-Atlantic
(JC094 in 2013) (Fig.4). At the same time core-top sediment samples were collected and microplastics were also
found in those sediments25.
Historically, collections of deep-sea organisms have been made using dredging/trawling equipment, so that
the exact locations of sample collection were unknown. Dredge sampling also causes organisms to be in a highly
disturbed condition on recovery at the sea surface and trawls are oen made of plastic bres precluding the study
of plastic contamination. By using ROVs the exact location and habitat is known, as the collections are made
using a suction hose or manipulator arm and deposited into sample containers (bioboxes – made of plastic but
not of the type and colour found). ese sampling methods limit the potential for contamination by surrounding
sediments and reduce trauma, maintaining the structural integrity of organisms. ere is potential for contami-
nation when ascending to the surface in bioboxes as they have some seawater through ow. However this type of
contamination (and feeding during ascent) is unlikely and should result in microbres of similar compositions
being found on the external surfaces of the organisms37, which was not observed. Preservation uid (70–80%
ethanol) was not ltered for microplastics however some organisms were dead (caused by the pressure and tem-
perature change when moving from deep to shallow water) when preserved i.e. not feeding and no organisms
were observed feeding once on ship.
Laboratory fibre contamination was minimised through a stringent set of protocols based upon known
and accepted procedures used in forensic laboratories that examine bres evidence49. All on-shore work was
undertaken in a sealed room (with door covered by 100% cotton muslin cloth) where only natural bre clothing
and non-plastic equipment (metal and glass) were utilised; the room had been cleaned and was monitored for
microplastics. Clean dampened lter paper was used to sample for any microbres present in the room during
specimen dissection (see Woodall, et al.37 for full laboratory procedures). No synthetic bres were found on the
lters in any part of the study.
Stomach, mouth, all internal cavities and breathing organs (gills and ventilation cavities) were dissected
from nine deep-sea organisms and examined under a binocular microscope to identify whether or not they had
ingested or internalised microplastics (Table1). Material was placed into glass petri dishes that had been cleaned
using 0.22 μ m membrane ltered Millipore water (as was all equipment). Only the dish under the microscope
was open to the air and nearby dampened lters were monitored post-dissection to check for contamination.
All plastic bres were picked up using a metal entomological pin, and placed into Millipore water contained in
a small, clean, glass vial which was immediately sealed. ese anti-contamination procedures have proven to
eectively minimise bre contamination and, although complete removal of bres from an environment is not
possible, the amount remaining is minimal, can be monitored, and is acceptable for the exacting standards of the
criminal justice system50. Microbres were classied using a Nikon polarised light microscope. is method is
commonly used in forensic science and other polymer sciences and has proven benets for the fast and eective
identication of bres. is method is described in Woodall et al.37.
1. Barnes, D. ., Walters, A. & Gonçalves, L. Macroplastics at sea around Antarctica. Mar Environ es 70, 250–252 (2010).
2. Obbard, . W. et al. Global warming releases microplastic legacy frozen in Arctic Sea ice. Earth’s Future 2, 315–320 (2014).
3. ühn, S., Bravo ebolledo, E. & van Franeer, J. In Marine Anthropogenic Litter (eds Melanie Bergmann, Lars Gutow & Michael
lages) Ch. 4, 75–116 (Springer International Publishing, 2015).
4. Secretariat of the CBD and the Scientic and Technical Advisory Panel, G. Impacts of Marine Debris on Biodiversity: Current Status
and Potential Solutions. 61 (Montreal, 2012).
5. Laist, D. In Marine Debris Springer Series on Environmental Management (eds James M. Coe & Donald B. ogers) Ch. 10, 99–139
(Springer New Yor, 1997).
6. Browne, M. A., Dissanayae, A., Galloway, T. S., Lowe, D. M. & ompson, . C. Ingested Microscopic Plastic Translocates to the
Circulatory System of the Mussel, Mytilus edulis (L.). Environmental Science and Technology 42, 5026–5031 (2008).
7. Mato, Y. et al. Plastic esin Pellets as a Transport Medium for Toxic Chemicals in the Marine Environment. Environmental Science
and Technology 35, 318–324 (2001).
8. Brennece, D., Duarte, B., Paiva, F., Caçador, I. & Canning-Clode, J. Microplastics as vector for heavy metal contamination from the
marine environment. Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. in press (2016).
9. ochman, C. M., Hentschel, B. T. & Teh, S. J. Long-Term S orption of Metals Is Similar among Plastic Types: Implications for Plastic
Debris in Aquatic Environments. PLoS ONE 9, e85433 (2014).
10. Browne, M. A., Niven, Stewart J., Galloway, Tamara S., owland, Steve J. & ompson, ichard C. Microplastic Moves Pollutants
and Additives to Worms, educing Functions Lined to Health and Biodiversity. Curr Biol 23, 2388–2392 (2013).
11. Li, H.-X. et al. Eects of Toxic Leachate from Commercial Plastics on Larval Survival and Settlement of the Barnacle Amphibalanus
amphitrite. Environ Sci Technol 50, 924–931 (2016).
12. ochman, C. M. et al. e ecological impacts of marine debris: unraveling the demonstrated evidence from what is perceived.
Ecology 97, 302–312 (2015).
13. Moore, C. J., Moore, S. L., Leecaster, M. . & Weisberg, S. B. A Comparison of Plastic and Planton in the North Pacic Central
Gyre. Mar Pollut Bull 42, 1297–1300 (2001).
14. omeo, T. et al. First evidence of presence of plastic debris in stomach of large pelagic sh in the Mediterranean Sea. Mar Pollut Bull
95, 358–361 (2015).
Scientific RepoRts | 6:33997 | DOI: 10.1038/srep33997
15. Lusher, A. L. et al. Microplastic and macroplastic ingestion by a deep diving, oceanic cetacean: e True’s beaed whale Mesoplodon
mirus. Environ Pollut 199, 185–191 (2015).
16. Besseling, E. et al. Microplastic in a macro lter feeder: Humpbac whale Megaptera novaeangliae. Mar Pollut Bull 95, 248–252
17. Murray, F. & Cowie, P.  . Plastic contamination in the decapod crustacean Nephrops norvegicus (Linnaeus, 1758). Mar Pollut Bull 62,
1207–1217 (2011).
18. Welden, N. A. C. Microplastic pollution in the Clyde sea area: a study using the indicator species Nephrops norvegicus PhD thesis thesis,
University of Glasgow (2015).
19. Devriese, L. I. et al. Microplastic contamination in brown shrimp (Crangon crangon, Linnaeus 1758) from coastal waters of the
Southern North Sea and Channel area. Mar Pollut Bull, doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.1006.1051 (2015).
20. Van Cauwenberghe, L., Claessens, M., Vandegehuchte, M. B. & Janssen, C. . Microplastics are taen up by mussels (Mytilus edulis)
and lugworms (Arenicola marina) living in natural habitats. Environ Pollut 199, 10–17 (2015).
21. Lee, .-W., Shim, W. J., won, O. Y. & ang, J.-H. Size-Dependent Eects of Micro Polystyrene Particles in the Marine Copepod
Tigriopus japonicus. Environmental Science and Technology 47, 11278–11283 (2013).
22. von Moos, N., Burhardt-Holm, P. & öhler, A. Uptae and Eects of Microplastics on Cells and Tissue of the Blue Mussel Mytilus
edulis L. aer an Experimental Exposure. Environmental Science and Technology 46, 11327–11335 (2012).
23. Hall, N. M., Berry, . L. E., intoul, L. & Hoogenboom, M. O. Microplastic ingestion by scleractinian corals. Mar. Biol. 162, 725–732
24. Watts, A. J. . et al. Uptae and etention of Microplastics by the Shore Crab Carcinus maenas. Environ Sci Technol 48, 8823–8830
25. Woodall, L. C. et al. e deep sea is a major sin for microplastic debris. oyal Society Open Science 1, doi: 10.1098/rsos.140317
26. Cole, M. et al. Microplastic Ingestion by Zooplanton. Environmental Science and Technology 47, 6646–6655 (2013).
27. Watts, A. J. ., Urbina, M. A., Corr, S., Lewis, C. & Galloway, T. S. Ingestion of Plastic Microbers by the Crab Carcinus maenas and
Its Eect on Food Consumption and Energy Balance. Environ Sci Technol 49, 14597–14604 (2015).
28. Graham, E. . & ompson, J. T. Deposit- and suspension-feeding sea cucumbers (Echinodermata) ingest plastic fragments. J Exp
Mar Biol Ecol 368, 22–29 (2009).
29. Brillant, M. G. & MacDonald, B. A. Postingestive selection in the sea scallop, Placopecten magellanicus (Gmelin): the role of particle
size and density. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 253, 211–227 (2000).
30. ompson, . C. et al. Lost at Sea: Where Is All the Plastic? Science 304, 838–838 (2004).
31. Ward, J. E. & ach, D. J. Marine aggregates facilitate ingestion of nanoparticles by suspension-feeding bivalves. Mar Environ es 68,
137–142 (2009).
32. Wright, S. L., owe, D., ompson, . C. & Galloway, T. S. Microplastic ingestion decreases energy reserves in marine worms. Curr
Biol 23, 1031–1033 (2013).
33. Wegner, A., Besseling, E., Foeema, E. M., amermans, P. & oelmans, A. A. Eects of nanopolystyrene on the feeding behavior of
the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis L.). Environ Toxicol Chem 31, 2490–2497 (2012).
34. Van Cauwenberghe, L., Vanreusel, A., Mees, J. & Janssen, C. . Microplastic pollution in deep-sea sediments. Environ Pollut 182,
495–499 (2013).
35. Fischer, V., Elsner, N. O., Brene, N., Schwabe, E. & Brandt, A. Plastic pollution of the uril–amchata Trench area (NW pacic).
Deep-Sea esearch Part II 111, 399–405 (2015).
36. Jambec, J. . et al. Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean. Science 347, 768–771 (2015).
37. Woodall, L. C. et al. Using a forensic science approach to minimize environmental contamination and to identify microbres in
marine sediments. Mar Pollut Bull 95, 40–46 (2015).
38. Morét-Ferguson, S. et al. e size, mass, and composition of plastic debris in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Mar Pollut Bull 60,
1873–1878 (2010).
39. Enders, ., Lenz, ., Stedmon, C. A. & Nielsen, T. G. Abundance, size and polymer composition of marine microplastics 10 μ m in
the Atlantic Ocean and their modelled vertical distribution. Mar Pollut Bull 100, 70–81 (2015).
40. Ivar do Sul, J. A. & Costa, M. F. e present and future of microplastic pollution in the marine environment. Environ Pollut 185,
352–364 (2014).
41. Frias, J. P. G. L., Gago, J., Otero, V. & Sobral, P. Microplastics in coastal sediments from Southern Portuguese shelf waters. Mar
Environ es 114, 24–30 (2016).
42. Hämer, J., Gutow, L., öhler, A. & Saborowsi, . Fate of Microplastics in the Marine Isopod Idotea emarginata. Environmental
Science and Technology 48, 13451–13458 (2014).
43. Au, S. Y., Bruce, T. F., Bridges, W. C. & laine, S. J. esponses of Hyalella azteca to acute and chronic microplastic. Environ Toxicol
Chem, doi: 10.1002/etc. 2993 (2015).
44. Mato, Y., Taada, H., Zaaria, M. P., uriyama, Y. & anehiro, H. Toxic chemicals contained in plastic resin pellets in the marine
environment—spatial dierence in pollutant concentrations and the eects of resin type. anyo agauaishi 15, 415–423
45. oelmans, A. In Marine Anthropogenic Litter (eds M. Bergmann, L. Gutow & M. lages) 309–324 (Springer, 2015).
46. Lithner, D., Larsson, Å. & Dave, G. Environmental and health hazard raning and assessment of plastic polymers based on chemical
composition. Sci Total Environ 409, 3309–3324 (2011).
47. Van Cauwenberghe, L. & Janssen, C. . Microplastics in bivalves cultured for human consumption. Environ Pollut 193, 65–70
48. Browne, M. A. et al. Lining eects of anthropogenic debris to ecological impacts. Proc. . Soc. Lond., Ser. B: Biol. Sci. 282, 20142929
49. obson, . & Coyle, T. Anti Contamination Procedures for Textile Fibre Examination – a Discussion Document. Problems of
Forensic Sciences XLVI, 236–238 (2001).
50. oux, C., Huttunen, J. & ampling, . Factors Aecting the Potential for Fibre Contamination in Purpose-Designed Forensic
Search ooms. Science and Justice 41, 135–144 (2001).
We would like to thank the scientists and crew of JC066 and JC094 for their assistance, specically the ROV Isis
team, whose hard work resulted in the collection of the organisms studied here. We would also like to thank Joe
Walsh for his unpublished sediment data from JC094. JC066 was funded by NERC grant NE/F005504/1: Benthic
Biodiversity of Seamounts in the Southwest Indian Ocean, and cruise JC094 ERC grant 278705. MT was funded
by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Scientific RepoRts | 6:33997 | DOI: 10.1038/srep33997
Author Contributions
M.L.T. and L.C.W. conceived the idea and undertook the research. C.G. undertook chemical analysis. L.F.R.
provided samples and, along with all authors, developed and wrote the manuscript.
Additional Information
Competing nancial interests: e authors declare no competing nancial interests.
How to cite this article: Taylor, M. L. et al. Plastic microbre ingestion by deep-sea organisms. Sci. Rep. 6,
33997; doi: 10.1038/srep33997 (2016).
is work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. e images
or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license,
unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license,
users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this
license, visit
© e Author(s) 2016
... Plastics have emerged as a ubiquitous pollutant, particularly in the coastal environment where they are found both in the water and sediment across changing redox conditions (Carpenter and Smith, 1972;Colton et al., 1974;Wong et al., 1974;Thompson et al., 2004;Jambeck et al., 2015;Barrett et al., 2020). Macro-, micro-and nanosized plastics enter the marine coastal environment from non-point terrestrial and aerosol sources, fishing and recreation practices, and via, e.g., currents, faecal pellet delivery, to eventually sink to the sediment (e.g., van Sebille et al., 2015;Taylor et al., 2016;Bergmann et al., 2017;Courtene-Jones et al., 2017;Coźar et al., 2017;Horton and Dixon, 2018;Peeken et al., 2018;Amaral-Zettler et al., 2020;Harris et al., 2023). During transport and storage, biogeochemical processes govern the microbial and elemental composition of the environment around the plastic and dictate interactions with the plastic as it moves from source to sink (Rogers et al., 2020). ...
Full-text available
Microbe-mineral interactions, such as mineral substrate utilization and aggregate formation, have played a key role in the cycling of elements through Earth evolution. In water, soils, and sediment biogeochemistry modulates microbial community composition and mineral formation over spatial and temporal scales. Plastic is a new material that is now widespread in the environment. Both microbial and mineral associations with plastic comprise the Plastisphere , which influences the fate of plastic. This study focuses on how the biogeochemical environment defines microbial and mineral association with polyethylene (PE) and polystyrene (PS) over a 12-month period in a temperate coastal harbor. The coastal harbor environment was separated into 3 conceptual compartments defined by physical and biogeochemical conditions, that allow transfer of electrons between species e.g., light penetration and redox setting. Microbe and mineral association were investigated in the water column, top sediment, and bottom sediment by applying a range of modern analytical techniques to identify changes in the chemical structures of plastics, microbial community development, metal, salt and mineral formation. The epiplastic microbial community was distinct to that of the surrounding environment across changing redox conditions. The type and oxidation state of metallic minerals formed on plastics or entrapped in the biofilm matrix related to the dominant abiotic and biotic processes across redox conditions. FTIR spectroscopy indicated the occurrence of PE and PS oxidation in the various biogeochemical environments. Combined, these findings demonstrate that redox conditions and surrounding biogeochemistry mediate the composition of mineralogical and biological loading of PE and PS in coastal marine environments. This suggests that the biogeochemical setting in which the plastics are stored constrains the development of plastic interfacial biogeochemistry and the potential for plastic degradation and transport over time.
... Plastic pollution has been recognized as an important environmental topic in recent years [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]. Although rivers constitute the main vector of plastics to the sea [3,[9][10][11][12][13][14], research has focused more on assessing plastics in marine ecosystems [4,[15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]. However, the number of studies on plastics in terrestrial and freshwater habitats is increasing in the past years [2,3,9,10,13,[23][24][25][26][27], with only a few studies emphasising the interactions between freshwater and terrestrial biota (i.e., evidence of negative impacts, such as ingestion, entanglement, and opportunistic use of plastics to build nests [8,[28][29][30]). ...
Full-text available
Plastics are widely distributed in all ecosystems with evident impacts on biodiversity. We aimed at examining the topic of plastic occurrence within bird nests. We conducted a systematic search on three social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to fill the gap of knowledge on plastic nests worldwide. As a result, we observed nests with plastics mostly belonging to synanthropic species inhabiting riverine habitats, mainly in Europe, North America, and Asia, with an increase in occurrence over the years. Two common and generalist freshwater species (Eurasian Coot Fulica atra and Swans Cygnus sp.) showed the highest frequency of occurrence of plastic debris. We suggest plastics in bird nests as a proxy for debris occurring in the environment. However, our data may be biased, due to our sample’s low representativeness. Therefore, more data are necessary to have more information on plastic distribution. In conclusion, social media might be pivotal in indicating plastic hotspot areas worldwide and being an indicator of plastic pollution within the environment.
... It is a widespread and escalating problem, with 51 trillion microplastic particles floating in the oceans of the world (Eriksen et al., 2014;Van Sebille et al., 2015). Plastic pollution (PP) is also found in polar regions to the tropics and from surface waters to the depths of the ocean (Pruter, 1987;Laist, 1997;Thompson, 2004;Andrady, 2011;Gall and Thompson, 2015;Taylor et al., 2016;Brahney et al., 2020;Kane et al., 2020;Rillig and Lehmann, 2020;Lucas-Solis et al., 2021;Pakhomova et al., 2022). Plastic pollution has been identified in the human blood, liver, lung, stool, placenta, and breast milk (Ragusa et al., 2021(Ragusa et al., , 2022Jenner et al., 2022;Leslie et al., 2022). ...
Full-text available
Plastic pollution (PP) is an ongoing, pervasive global problem that represents a risk to the Galápagos archipelago, despite it being one of the world's most pristine and well-protected regions. By working closely with citizen scientists, we aimed to quantify and map the magnitude and biological effects of PP. With macroplastic abundance ranging from 0.003 to 2.87 items/m2, our research indicates that all five sampled Galápagos bioregions are contaminated with PP along their coastlines. The distribution of this debris is not uniform, with macroplastics significantly higher on the windward shores. Based on the identification information found on the examined items, Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was the most predominant type of plastic originating from both consumer and fisheries-based products deriving primarily from Perú, China, and Ecuador. The top three manufacturers were AjeCroup, Coca-Cola, and Tingy Holding Corporation. Through citizen science, we documented PP exposure in 52 species (20 endemic) in Galápagos terrestrial and marine environments, with exposure occurring in two ways: entanglement and ingestion. These included reptiles (8 species), birds (13 species), mammals (4 species), cartilaginous fish (7 species), bony fish (14 species), and invertebrates (6 species). The top five species with the greatest risk of serious harm due to entanglement (in decreasing order) were identified as green sea turtles, marine iguanas, whale sharks, spine-tail mobulas, and medium-ground finches. In contrast, Santa Cruz tortoises, green sea turtles, marine iguanas, black-striped salemas, and Galápagos sea lions were at the highest risk of harm due to the ingestion of plastics. Our research indicates that PP is a growing problem in the Galápagos archipelago and that additional work is necessary to mitigate its impact now and in the future.
... Plastic has also been found in the wildlife of remote areas; for example, the Andean condors accumulate microplastics through their diet composed by plastic-contaminated carcasses of pinnipeds and South American camelids [19]. Taylor et al. [20] found that organisms living in the deep-sea floor with different feeding mechanisms (i.e., Cnidaria, Echinodermata, and Arthropoda) ingested and internalized microplastics. This indicates a worrying contamination by microplastics through the trophic chain, affecting animals living in potentially uncontaminated environments. ...
Full-text available
We show that the native moss Hypnum cupressiforme can be used as a biomonitor of atmospheric microplastics (MPs). The moss was collected in seven semi-natural and rural sites in Campania (southern Italy) and was analyzed for the presence of MPs, according to standard protocols. Moss samples from all sites accumulated MPs, with fibers representing the largest fraction of plastic debris. Higher numbers of MPs and longer fibers were recorded in moss samples from sites closer to urbanized areas, likely as the results of a continuous flux from sources. The MP size class distribution showed that small size classes characterized sites having a lower level of MP deposition and a high altitude above sea level.
... However, the great majority of fibres found in the oceans are non-synthetic fibres, composed of processed polymers from natural materials, for instance, regenerated cellulose and dyed cotton . Indeed, several studies have evidenced the apparent dominance of both synthetic and non-synthetic textile fibres within the digestive tract of organisms (Taylor et al., 2016;Compa et al., 2018;Rodríguez-Romeu et al., 2020;Carreras-Colom et al., 2020). This hints that studies associated to anthropogenic items (AIs) ingestion processes should include MPs and also pay special attention to the proportions of both synthetic and processed cellulosic fibres (Ryan et al., 2019). ...
Full-text available
Prevalence, abundance, concentration, size and composition of anthropogenic items (AIs) (synthetic and non-synthetic) ingested by Merluccius merluccius juvenile specimens and from near-bottom water samples from different localities off the Catalan coast (NW Mediterranean), were characterized. The potential effect of AIs on fish condition was assessed through different health indicators. Virtually all AIs found in fish and near-bottom water samples were fibres. A mean of 0.85 fibres/m3 from the surrounding water was observed. Fish ingested a mean of 1.39 (SD = 1.39) items/individual. Cellulosic fibres were predominant (77.8% of samples), except for Barcelona. No differences in ingested AIs abundance and composition off Barcelona between 2007 and 2019 were found. Small AIs from the environment matched ingested AIs composition. Hakes did not ingest large fibres despite being present in the environment, probably due to their feeding behaviour. No adverse health effects or parasites aggregations were detected to be potentially related to AIs ingestion.
... It is known that MP is ingested by deep sea fauna (Taylor et al., 2016) including habitat-forming organisms (Corinaldesi et al., 2021) and the presence of MP alters sediment microbial community composition and nitrogen cycling processes ( Seeley et al., 2020). ...
... The total output of global plastics production and use has increased from 1.7 × 10 6 t in 1950 to × 10 8 T in 2015, with a total output . Worldwide research on microplastics is mainly focused on the ocean (Costa and Barletta 2015;Taylor et al. 2016), polar glaciers (Obbard et al. 2014), and coastlines of continents (Browne 2015). Microplastics have been found even in aquatic organisms far away from humans, such as deep-sea corals (Woodall et al. 2014). ...
Full-text available
Currently research on microplastics in the environment focuses on non-degradable microplastics with little attention to research on degradable microplastics. This study involved a 400-day experiment in a simulated lake environment of three degradable microplastics, poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL), polybutylene succinate (PBS), and poly(butylene adipate terephthalate) (PBAT) at the sediment water interface. Results showed that (1) for the three microplastics, Cd concentration showed a large change from 0 to 20 mm in the water above the sediment interface; the adsorption of Cd, Pb, and Cu in a diffusive gradients thin film (DGT) device are the highest in PBAT micro plastic, followed by PCL and then PBS. (2) Diffuse flux (J) of the three degradable microplastics indicated that Cu, Cd, and Pb in the sediments come from the overlying water that was added to the simulation experiment. (3) Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy (FTIR) for investigating the adsorption capacity of Cu, Cd, and Pb in the three degradable microplastics showed the absorption peak intensity increased and widened, and some adsorption sites changed. (4) Correlation analysis showed that the factors which most influenced diffusion flux for both water and sediments are oxidation–reduction potential (ORP), followed by organic matter (OM), pH, and electrical conductivity (EC). Graphical Abstract
Although most deep-sea areas are remote in comparison to coastal zones, a growing body of literature indicates that many sensitive ecosystems could be under increased stress from anthropogenic sources. Among the multiple potential stressors, microplastics (MPs), pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs/PCPs) and the imminent start of commercial deep-sea mining have received increased attention. Here we review the recent literature on these emerging stressors in deep-sea environments and discuss the cumulative effects with climate change associated variables. Importantly, MPs and PPCPs have been detected in deep-sea waters, organisms and sediments, in some locations in comparable levels to coastal areas. The Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea are the most studied areas and where higher levels of MPs and PPCPs have been detected. The paucity of data for most other deep-sea ecosystems indicates that many more locations are likely to be contaminated by these emerging stressors, but the absence of studies hampers a better assessment of the potential risk. The main knowledge gaps in the field are identified and discussed, and future research priorities are highlighted to improve hazard and risk assessment.
Identifying and removing microplastics (MPs) from the environment is a global challenge. This study explores how the colloidal fraction of MPs assemble into distinct 2D patterns at aqueous interfaces of liquid crystal (LC) films with the goal of developing surface-sensitive methods for identifying MPs. Polyethylene (PE) and polystyrene (PS) microparticles are measured to exhibit distinct aggregation patterns, with addition of anionic surfactant amplifying differences in PS/PE aggregation patterns: PS changes from a linear chain-like morphology to a singly dispersed state with increasing surfactant concentration whereas PE forms dense clusters at all surfactant concentrations. Statistical analysis of assembly patterns using deep learning image recognition models yields accurate classification, with feature importance analysis confirming that dense, multibranched assemblies are unique features of PE relative to PS. Microscopic characterization of LC ordering at the microparticle surfaces leads to predict LC-mediated interactions (due to elastic strain) with a dipolar symmetry, a prediction consistent with the interfacial organization of PS but not PE. Further analysis leads to conclude that PE microparticles, due to their polycrystalline nature, possess rough surfaces that lead to weak LC elastic interactions and enhanced capillary forces. Overall, the results highlight the potential utility of LC interfaces for rapid identification of colloidal MPs based on their surface properties.
Full-text available
As a marine delicacy, sea cucumbers were often eaten raw in many part of the world and they have been reported to ingest microplastic. This study aimed to determine the microplastics in the digestive system of sea cucumbers from Demak Waters. The ten samples of Acaudina sp were taken using a bottom dredge from Wulan Estury and put in the glass-bottles samples. In the laboratory, the digestive tract was taken out from the sea cucumber, divided into 7 parts, and pooled in the glass beaker. Microplastics were digested with KOH and incubated at 40 °C for 24 hours. Then, the digestion solution was filtered through a sterile cellulose nitrate filter paper by vacuum filtration. The microplastics obtained were observed for their physical characteristics (density, shape and colour) under the microscope. The density of microplastics were varied among the part of digestive tract. They consisted of fragments, fiber, and pellets. The colour of microplastics were varied but dominated by the blue. As a deposit feeder, the sea cucumber might ingest the microplastics in the sediment they fed on.
Full-text available
Plastic pollution represents a major and growing global problem. It is well known that plastics are a source of chemical contaminants to the aquatic environment and provide novel habitats for marine organisms. The present study quantified the impacts of plastic leachates from the seven categories of recyclable plastics on larval survival and settlement of barnacle Amphibalanus (=Balanus) amphitrite. Leachates from plastics significantly increased barnacle nauplii mortality at the highest tested concentrations (0.10 and 0.50 m2/L). Hydrophobicity (measured as surface energy) was positively correlated with mortality indicating that plastic surface chemistry may be an important factor in the effects of plastics on sessile organisms. Plastic leachates significantly inhibited barnacle cyprids settlement on glass at all tested concentrations. Settlement on plastic surfaces was significantly inhibited after 24 and 48 h, but settlement was not significantly inhibited compared to the controls for some plastics after 72 to 96 hours. In 24 h exposure to seawater, we found larval toxicity and inhibition of settlement with all 7 categories of recyclable commercial plastics. Chemical analysis revealed a complex mixture of substances released in plastic leachates. Leaching of toxic compounds from all plastics should be considered when assessing the risks of plastic pollution.
The permanent presence of microplastics in the marine environment is considered a global threat to several marine animals. Heavy metals and microplastics are typically included in two different classes of pollutants but the interaction between these two stressors is poorly understood. During 14 days of experimental manipulation, we examined the adsorption of two heavy metals, copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn), leached from an antifouling paint to virgin polystyrene (PS) beads and aged polyvinyl chloride (PVC) fragments in seawater. We demonstrated that heavy metals were released from the antifouling paint to the water and both microplastic types adsorbed the two heavy metals. This adsorption kinetics was described using partition coefficients and mathematical models. Partition coefficients between pellets and water ranged between 650 and 850 for Cu on PS and PVC, respectively. The adsorption of Cu was significantly greater in PVC fragments than in PS, probably due to higher surface area and polarity of PVC. Concentrations of Cu and Zn increased significantly on PVC and PS over the course of the experiment with the exception of Zn on PS. As a result, we show a significant interaction between these types of microplastics and heavy metals, which can have implications for marine life and the environment. These results strongly support recent findings where plastics can play a key role as vectors for heavy metal ions in the marine system. Finally, our findings highlight the importance of monitoring marine litter and heavy metals, mainly associated with antifouling paints, particularly in the framework of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).
Microscopic plastic fragments (<5mm) are a worldwide conservation issue, polluting both coastal and marine environments. Fibres are the most prominent plastic type reported in the guts of marine organisms, but their effects once ingested are unknown. This study investigated the fate of polypropylene rope microfibres (1-5mm in length) ingested by the crab, Carcinus maenas, and the consequences for the crab's energy budget. In chronic 4 week feeding studies, crabs which ingested food containing microfibres (0.3-1.0% plastic by weight) showed reduced food consumption (from 0.33g d-1 to 0.03g d-1) and a significant reduction in energy available for growth (scope for growth) from 0.59 kJ crab d-1 to -0.31 kJ crab d-1 in crabs fed with 1% plastic. The polypropylene microfibres were physically altered by their passage through the foregut, and were excreted with a smaller overall size and length, and amalgamated into distinctive balls. These results support of the emerging paradigm that a key biological impact of microplastic ingestion is a reduction in energy budgets for the affected marine biota. We also provide novel evidence of the biotransformations that can affect the plastics themselves following ingestion and excretion.
Anthropogenic debris contaminates marine habitats globally, leading to several perceived ecological impacts. Here, we critically and systematically review the literature regarding impacts of debris from several scientific fields to understand the weight of evidence regarding the ecological impacts of marine debris. We quantified perceived and demonstrated impacts across several levels of biological organization that make up the ecosystem and found 366 perceived threats of debris across all levels. Two hundred and ninety-six of these perceived threats were tested, 83% of which were demonstrated. The majority (82%) of demonstrated impacts were due to plastic, relative to other materials (e.g., metals, glass) and largely (89%) at suborganismal levels (e.g., molecular, cellular, tissue). The remaining impacts, demonstrated at higher levels of organization (i.e., death to individual organisms, changes in assemblages), were largely due to plastic marine debris (>1 mm; e.g., rope, straws, and fragments). Thus, we show evidence of ecological impacts from marine debris, but conclude that the quantity and quality of research requires improvement to allow the risk of ecological impacts of marine debris to be determined with precision. Still, our systematic review suggests that sufficient evidence exists for decision makers to begin to mitigate problematic plastic debris now, to avoid risk of irreversible harm.
This study assessed the capability of Crangon crangon (L.), an ecologically and commercially important crustacean, of consuming plastics as an opportunistic feeder. We therefore determined the microplastic content of shrimp in shallow water habitats of the Channel area and Southern part of the North Sea. Synthetic fibers ranging from 200 µm up to 1000 µm size were detected in 63 % of the assessed shrimp and an average value of 0.68 ± 0.55 microplastics/ g w. w. (1.23 ± 0.99 microplastics/ shrimp) was obtained for shrimp in the sampled area. The assessment revealed no spatial patterns in plastic ingestion, but temporal differences were reported. The microplastic uptake was significantly higher in October compared to March. The results suggest that microplastics > 20 µm are not able to translocate into the tissues.
This study assessed the capability of Crangon crangon (L.), an ecologically and commercially important crustacean, of consuming plastics as an opportunistic feeder. We therefore determined the microplastic content of shrimp in shallow water habitats of the Channel area and Southern part of the North Sea. Synthetic fibers ranging from 200 μm up to 1000 μm size were detected in 63% of the assessed shrimp and an average value of 0.68 ± 0.55 microplastics/g w. w. (1.23 ± 0.99 microplastics/shrimp) was obtained for shrimp in the sampled area. The assessment revealed no spatial patterns in plastic ingestion, but temporal differences were reported. The microplastic uptake was significantly higher in October compared to March. The results suggest that microplastics >20 μm are not able to translocate into the tissues.
This paper is primarily presented to encourage open discussion on fibre anti-contamination procedures adopted within laboratories. Thought will be given to various methods - both classical and new. Ideas for improvement will be proposed, finishing with a look to the future. As a backdrop, the procedures currently adopted at Forensic Alliance Limited will be presented together with the example of an enquiry that proved to be particularly challenging in terms of offering to undertake an investigation whilst ensuring all possibilities of contamination had been addressed.