The true depth of the Mediterranean plastic problem: Extreme microplastic pollution on marine turtle nesting beaches in Cyprus

Duncan, EM; Arrowsmith, J; Bain, C; Broderick, AC; Lee, J; Metcalfe, K; Pikesley, SK; Snape, RTE; van Sebille, E; Godley, BJ. 2018 The true depth of the Mediterranean plastic problem: Extreme microplastic pollution on marine turtle nesting beaches in Cyprus. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 136. 334-340. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.09.019

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.09.019

Abstract/Summary

We sampled 17 nesting sites for loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Cyprus. Microplastics (<5 mm) were found at all locations and depths, with particularly high abundance in superficial sand. The top 2 cm of sand presented grand mean ± SD particle counts of 45,497 ± 11,456 particles m−3 (range 637–131,939 particles m−3). The most polluted beaches were among the worst thus far recorded, presenting levels approaching those previously recorded in Guangdong, South China. Microplastics decreased with increasing sand depth but were present down to turtle nest depths of 60 cm (mean 5,325 ± 3,663 particles m−3. Composition varied among beaches but hard fragments (46.5 ± 3.5%) and pre-production nurdles (47.8 ± 4.5%) comprised most categorised pieces. Particle drifter analysis hindcast for 365 days indicated that most plastic likely originated from the eastern Mediterranean basin. Worsening microplastic abundance could result in anthropogenically altered life history parameters such as hatching success and sex ratios in marine turtles.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
Depositing User: Kim Hockley
Date made live: 23 Jan 2019 14:44
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2020 09:59
URI: http://plymsea.ac.uk/id/eprint/8084

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