Marine Environmental Research

Volumes 87–88, Pages 1-122 (June–July 2013)

Valeria Hidalgo-Ruz, Martin Thiel, Distribution and abundance of small plastic debris on beaches in the SE Pacific (Chile): A study supported by a citizen science project, Marine Environmental Research, Volumes 87–88, June–July 2013, Pages 12-18, ISSN 0141-1136, 10.1016/j.marenvres.2013.02.015.
Abstract: The accumulation of large and small plastic debris is a problem throughout the world’s oceans and coastlines. Abundances and types of small plastic debris have only been reported for some isolated beaches in the SE Pacific, but these data are insufficient to evaluate the situation in this region. The citizen science project “National Sampling of Small Plastic Debris” was supported by schoolchildren from all over Chile who documented the distribution and abundance of small plastic debris on Chilean beaches. Thirty-nine schools and nearly 1000 students from continental Chile and Easter Island participated in the activity. To validate the data obtained by the students, all samples were recounted in the laboratory. The results of the present study showed that the students were able to follow the instructions and generate reliable data. The average abundance obtained was 27 small plastic pieces per m2 for the continental coast of Chile, but the samples from Easter Island had extraordinarily higher abundances (>800 items per m2). The abundance of small plastic debris on the continental coast could be associated with coastal urban centers and their economic activities. The high abundance found on Easter Island can be explained mainly by the transport of plastic debris via the surface currents in the South Pacific Subtropical Gyre, resulting in the accumulation of small plastic debris on the beaches of the island. This first report of the widespread distribution and abundance of small plastic debris on Chilean beaches underscores the need to extend plastic debris research to ecological aspects of the problem and to improve waste management.
Keywords: Small plastic debris; Anthropogenic litter; Plastics; Citizen Science; SE Pacific; Chile; Easter Island; Marine debris

Volume 85, Pages 1-76 (April 2013)

Eda N. Topçu, Arda M. Tonay, Ayhan Dede, Ayaka A. Öztürk, Bayram Öztürk, Origin and abundance of marine litter along sandy beaches of the Turkish Western Black Sea Coast, Marine Environmental Research, Volume 85, April 2013, Pages 21-28, ISSN 0141-1136, 10.1016/j.marenvres.2012.12.006.
Abstract: Beach debris abundance was estimated from surveys on 10 beaches of the Turkish Western Black Sea Coast. Debris was collected from 20 m long transects during four different seasons; sorted and categorized by type, usage and origin. Litter density varied from 0.085 to 5.058 items m−2. Debris was mainly composed of unidentifiable small size (2–7 cm) plastic pieces and beverage-related litter such as bottles and bottle caps. About half of the labeled litter was of foreign origin, including 25 different countries, 23% of which are in the Black Sea region.

The south-western Black Sea Coast seems to receive foreign litter from two main sources: land-based debris from the neighboring countries and seaborne debris due to international shipping. Standardized methodology and indicators need to be designated all over the Black Sea basin in order to quantify and qualify coastal litter pollution, monitor compliance with MARPOL and develop regionally effective mitigation measures.
Keywords: Marine debris; Litter; Ocean dumping; Pollution monitoring; Beaches; Black Sea

Volume 84, Pages 1-96 (March 2013)

Henry S. Carson, Megan R. Lamson, Davis Nakashima, Derek Toloumu, Jan Hafner, Nikolai Maximenko, Karla J. McDermid, Tracking the sources and sinks of local marine debris in Hawai‘i, Marine Environmental Research, Volume 84, March 2013, Pages 76-83, ISSN 0141-1136, 10.1016/j.marenvres.2012.12.002.
Abstract: Plastic pollution has biological, chemical, and physical effects on marine environments and economic effects on coastal communities. These effects are acute on southeastern Hawai‘i Island, where volunteers remove 16 metric tons of debris annually from a 15 km coastline. Although the majority is foreign-origin, a portion is locally-generated. We used floating debris-retention booms in two urban waterways to measure the input of debris from Hilo, the island’s largest community, and released wooden drifters in nearby coastal waters to track the fate of that debris. In 205 days, 30 kilograms of debris (73.6% plastic) were retained from two watersheds comprising 10.2% of Hilo’s developed land area. Of 851 wooden drifters released offshore of Hilo in four events, 23.3% were recovered locally, 1.4% at distant locations, and 6.5% on other islands. Comparisons with modeled surface currents and wind were mixed, indicating the importance of nearshore and tidal dynamics not included in the model. This study demonstrated that local pollutants can be retained nearby, contribute to the island’s debris-accumulation area, and quickly contaminate other islands.
Keywords: Plastics; Marine debris; Hawaii; Drifters; Retention booms; Ocean models; Sources; Pathways; Waste disposal

Volume 81, Pages 1-94 (October 2012)

Kalliopi N. Fotopoulou, Hrissi K. Karapanagioti, Surface properties of beached plastic pellets, Marine Environmental Research, Volume 81, October 2012, Pages 70-77, ISSN 0141-1136, 10.1016/j.marenvres.2012.08.010.
Abstract: The presence of pollutants on plastic debris is an emerging environmental hot topic. Understanding the surface alteration of plastics while in the marine environment increases our understanding of the pollutant–plastic debris interaction. Plastic pellets are widely distributed throughout the world oceans. Eroded and virgin polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) pellets were studied for their surface properties to better understand the interaction between plastic and compounds in marine environment. Surface properties such as point of zero charge, surface area and pore volume, surface topography, functional groups and acid–base behavior are important factors which affect sorption. Virgin plastic pellets had homogeneous smooth surfaces that do not have any acid–base behavior. Eroded PE demonstrates an altered surface that at seawater pH acquires a negative charge due to ketone groups. The uneven surface and possible functional groups could have been formed from the erosion processes while floating at the sea surface and might explain the interaction of eroded plastics with microbes and metals.
Keywords: Eroded plastic pellets; Point of zero charge; Polyethylene; Polypropylene; Surface groups; Marine debris