Menu
Home
Log in / Register
 
Home arrow Environment arrow Marine Anthropogenic Litter

Microplastics in the Pacific Ocean

Numerous studies on microplastics have been undertaken in the Pacific Ocean, the world's largest water basin (Table 10.1). One area which has received considerable attention is the North Pacific Central Gyre (NPCG) located off the west coast of

Table 10.1 Mean abundance (±SD, unless stated otherwise) of microplastic debris in the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean

Location

Equipment used

Amount (±SD)

Particles (m−3)

Source

North Pacific

Bering Sea

Ring net

a80 (±190) km−2

0.000016

Day and Shaw (1987)

Bering Sea

Ring/neuston net

1.0 (± 4.2) km−2

0.0000002

Day et al. (1990)

Bering Sea

Sameota sampler/ manta net

Range: 0.004–0.19 m−3

0.004–0.19

Doyle et al. (2011)

Subarctic N.P.

Ring net

a3,370 (±2,380) km−2

0.00067

Day and Shaw (1987)

Subarctic N.P.

Ring/neuston net

61.4 (±225.5) km−2

0.000012

Day et al. (1990)

Eastern North Pacific

Vancouver Island, Canada

Underway sampling

279 (±178) m−3

279

Desforges et al. (2014)

Eastern North Pacific

Plankton net

Estimated 21,290 t afloat

/

Law et al. (2014)

N.P. transitional water

Ring/neuston net

291.6 (±714.4) km−2

0.00012

Day et al. (1990)

N.P. central gyre

Manta net

334,271 km−2

*2.23

Moore et al. (2001)

N.P. central gyre

Manta net

85,184 km−2

0.017

Carson et al. (2013)

N.P. subtropical gyre 1999–2010

Plankton net/manta net/neuston net

Median: 0.116 m−3

0.12

Goldstein et al. (2012)

South Californian

Manta net

Median:

0.011–

Gilfillan et al.

current system

0.011–0.033 m−3

0.033

(2009)

Santa Monica Bay, California, USA

Manta net

3.92 m−3

3.92

Lattin et al. (2004)

Santa Monica Bay, California, USA

Manta net

7.25 m−3

7.25

Moore et al. (2002)

N.P. subtropical

Manta net

Median:

0.0042–

Goldstein et al.

gyre

0.02–0.45 m−2

0.089

(2013)

South Equatorial current

Neuston net

137 km−2

0.000027

Spear et al. (1995)

Equatorial counter current

24 km−2

0.0000048

Western North Pacific

Subtropical N.P.

Ring net

a96,100

(±780,000) km−2

0.019

Day and Shaw (1987)

Subtropical N.P.

Ring/neuston net

535.1 (±726.1) km−2

0.00011

Day et al. (1990)

Near-shore waters, Japan

Ring/neuston net

128.2 (±172.2) km−2

0.000026

Day et al. (1990)

Kuroshio current system

Neuston net

174,000

(±467,000) km−2

0.034

Yamashita and Tanimura (2007)

Table 10.1 (continued)

Location

Equipment used

Amount (±SD)

Particles (m−3)

Source

Yangtze estuary system, East China Sea

Neuston net

4,137.3

(±8.2 × 104) m−3

4137.3

Zhao et al. (2014)

Geoje Island, South Korea

Bulk sampling, hand-net, manta net

16,000

(±14 × 103) m−3

16,000

Song et al. (2014)

South Pacific

South Pacific subtropical gyre

Manta net

26,898

(±60,818) km−2

0.0054

Eriksen et al. (2013)

Australian coast

Neston net

b4,256.3

(±757.8) km−2

0.00085

Reisser et al. (2013)

Manta net

If particles in m−3 were not reported, the values have been converted as follows: (1) km−2 to m−2: by division by 1,000,000 followed by multiplication by 0.2 m; (2) m−2 to m−3 carried out by 0.2 multiplication

aMean ±95 % confidence intervals

bMean ± standard error

California, USA. The gyre contains possibly the most well publicised area of plastic accumulation, known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (Kaiser 2010). Microplastic concentrations in the NPCG have increased by two orders of magnitude in the last four decades (Goldstein et al. 2012). In comparison, microplastic abundance in the North Pacific subtropical gyre (NPSG) is widespread and spatially variable, but values are two orders of magnitude lower than in the NPCG (Goldstein et al. 2013). Microplastic studies in the south Pacific are limited to the subtropical gyre where an increasing trend of microplastics was found towards the centre of the gyre (5.38 particles m−3 1 Eriksen et al. 2013). In a similar way to macroplastic debris, oceanographic features strongly affect the distribution of microplastics in open oceans and areas of upwelling create oceanographic convergence zones for marine debris.

Coastal ecosystems of the Pacific appear to be impacted by microplastics in areas of nutrient upwelling (Doyle et al. 2011) and influenced by local weather systems (Moore et al. 2002; Lattin et al. 2004). Microplastic load increased further inshore, reflecting the inputs from terrestrial runoff and particles re-suspended from sediments following storms (Lattin et al. 2004). Microplastics are in turn transported by ocean currents from populated coastal areas (Reisser et al. 2013). This is also reflected in offshore subsurface waters which had 4–27 times less plastics than coastal sites in the northeast Pacific (Desforges et al. 2014).

Pre-production plastic resin pellets and fragments wash up on coastlines worldwide and have been recovered from several Pacific beaches (Table 10.2). Plastic pellets, typically 3–5 mm in size, are made predominantly from the polymers polyethylene and polypropylene (Endo et al. 2005; Ogata et al. 2009). The average

Table 10.2 Mean microplastic abundance (±SD, unless otherwise stated) in sediments from the Pacific

Location

Types

Amount (±SD)

Source

North Pacific

Pacific beaches

Fragments 10 mm

/

Hirai et al. (2011)

9 beaches, Hawaiian islands

Fragments 1–15 mm

a37.8 kg−1

aMcDermid and McMullen (2004)

Pellets 1–15 mm

a4.9 kg−1

Hawaiian islands

Pellets and fragments

/

Rios et al. (2007)

Kauai, Hawaiian islands

Fragments and pellets 0.8–6.5 mm

/

Corcoran et al. (2009)

Kauai, Hawaiian islands

Fragments <1 cm

/

Cooper and Corcoran (2010)

Kamillo Beach, Hawaii

Pellets and fragments

Total: 248

Carson et al. (2011)

Northeast Pacific

Los Angeles, California, USA

Pellets and fragments

/

Rios et al. (2007)

San Diego, California, USA

Pellets and fragments

<5 mm

/

Van et al. (2012)

Beaches, western USA

Pellets

/

Ogata et al. (2009)

Guadalupe Island, Mexico

Pellets and fragments

/

Rios et al. (2007)

Northwest Pacific

Coastal beaches, Russia

Fragments and pellets

b29 m−2

Kusui and Noda (2003)

Tokyo, Japan

Pellets

>1,000 m−2

Kuriyama et al. (2002)

Coastal beaches, Japan

Pellets

/

Mato et al. (2001)

Coastal beaches, Japan

Pellets

b0.52 m−2

Kusui and Noda (2003)

Fragments

b1.1 m−2

Coastal beaches, Japan

Pellets <5 mm

>100 per beach

Endo et al. (2005)

Korean Strait

Heugnam Beach, South Korea

PS spheres

874 (±377) m−2

Heo et al. (2013)

Fragments

25 (±10) m−2

Pellets

41 (±19) m−2

South China Sea

Ming Chau Island, Vietnam

Pellets

/

Ogata et al. (2009)

Hong Kong, China

Pellets

/

Ogata et al. (2009)

South Pacific

Coastal beaches, New Zealand

Pellets <5 mm

>1,000 m−1

Gregory (1978)

Coastal beaches, Chile

Fragments and pellets 1–10 mm

30 m−2

Hidalgo-Riz and Thiel (2013)

Easter Island, Chile

Fragments and pellets 1–10 mm

805 m−2

Hidalgo-Riz and Thiel (2013)

aCalculated from total plastic collected from an overall total of 440 L of beach sediment

bCalculated from total plastics found over total survey area

abundance of plastic fragments on beaches in the southeast Pacific was greater in isolated areas (Easter Island: >800 items m−2) than on beaches from continental Chile (30 items m−2) (Hidalgo-Ruz and Thiel 2013). This trend has been seen in the Hawaiian archipelago, where the remotest beaches on Midway Atoll and Moloka'I contained the highest quantity of plastic particles (McDermid and McMullen 2004; Corcoran et al. 2009; Cooper and Corcoran 2010).

 
Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >
 
Subjects
Accounting
Business & Finance
Communication
Computer Science
Economics
Education
Engineering
Environment
Geography
Health
History
Language & Literature
Law
Management
Marketing
Mathematics
Political science
Philosophy
Psychology
Religion
Sociology
Travel