Latest reports and news stories about plastic in the sea can be found here, (reports and statistics about other plastic related issues can be found here)

Thanks to Fabiano of for keeping us well informed.

Try schnews for the nasty nurdles

billions of tiny plastic pellets, called nurdles – the raw materials for the plastic industry – are lost or spilled every year, many ending up in the sea. These act like chemical sponges, soaking up other toxic man-made chemicals, all artificial pollutants (for toxicity think DDT pesticide etc), concentrating them up to a million times more than in normal sea water.

Chris Wilcox, Nicholas J. Mallos, George H. Leonard, Alba Rodriguez, Britta Denise Hardesty, Using expert elicitation to estimate the impacts of plastic pollution on marine wildlife, Marine Policy, Volume 65, March 2016, Pages 107-114, ISSN 0308-597X,
Abstract: Marine litter is a growing environmental concern. With the rapid increase in global plastics production and the resulting large volume of litter that enters the marine environment, determining the consequences of this debris on marine fauna and ocean health has now become a critical environmental priority, particularly for threatened and endangered species. However, there are limited data about the impacts of debris on marine species from which to draw conclusions about the population consequences of anthropogenic debris. To address this knowledge gap, information was elicited from experts on the ecological threat (both severity and specificity) of entanglement, ingestion and chemical contamination for three major marine taxa: seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals. The threat assessment focused on the most common types of litter that are found along the world’s coastlines, based on data gathered during three decades of international coastal clean-up efforts. Fishing related gear, balloons and plastic bags were estimated to pose the greatest entanglement risk to marine fauna. In contrast, experts identified a broader suite of items of concern for ingestion, with plastic bags and plastic utensils ranked as the greatest threats. Entanglement and ingestion affected a similar range of taxa, although entanglement was rated as slightly worse because it is more likely to be lethal. Contamination was scored the lowest in terms of impact, affecting a smaller portion of the taxa and being rated as having solely non-lethal impacts. This work points towards a number of opportunities both for policy-based and consumer-driven changes in plastics use that could have demonstrable affects for a range of ecologically important taxa that serve as indicators of marine ecosystem health.
Keywords: Chemical contamination; Elicitation survey; Entanglement; Ingestion; Marine debris; Marine mammal; Plastic pollution; Seabird; Turtle

Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin N. Waters, Juliana Ivar do Sul, Patricia L. Corcoran, Anthony D. Barnosky, Alejandro Cearreta, Matt Edgeworth, Agnieszka Gałuszka, Catherine Jeandel, Reinhold Leinfelder, J.R. McNeill, Will Steffen, Colin Summerhayes, Michael Wagreich, Mark Williams, Alexander P. Wolfe, Yasmin Yonan, The geological cycle of plastics and their use as a stratigraphic indicator of the Anthropocene, Anthropocene, Available online 18 January 2016, ISSN 2213-3054,
Abstract: The rise of plastics since the mid-20th century, both as a material element of modern life and as a growing environmental pollutant, has been widely described. Their distribution in both the terrestrial and marine realms suggests that they are a key geological indicator of the Anthropocene, as a distinctive stratal component. Most immediately evident in terrestrial deposits, they are clearly becoming widespread in marine sedimentary deposits in both shallow- and deep-water settings. They are abundant and widespread as macroscopic fragments and virtually ubiquitous as microplastic particles; these are dispersed by both physical and biological processes, not least via the food chain and the ‘faecal express’ route from surface to sea floor. Plastics are already widely dispersed in sedimentary deposits, and their amount seems likely to grow several-fold over the next few decades. They will continue to be input into the sedimentary cycle over coming millennia as temporary stores – landfill sites – are eroded. Plastics already enable fine time resolution within Anthropocene deposits via the development of their different types and via the artefacts (‘technofossils’) they are moulded into, and many of these may have long-term preservation potential when buried in strata.
Keywords: Anthropocene; Plastics; Stratigraphy

Note to users:
Accepted manuscripts are Articles in Press that have been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by the Editorial Board of this publication. They have not yet been copy edited and/or formatted in the publication house style, and may not yet have the full ScienceDirect functionality, e.g., supplementary files may still need to be added, links to references may not resolve yet etc. The text could still change before final publication.

Although accepted manuscripts do not have all bibliographic details available yet, they can already be cited using the year of online publication and the DOI, as follows: author(s), article title, Publication (year), DOI. Please consult the journal’s reference style for the exact appearance of these elements, abbreviation of journal names and use of punctuation.

When the final article is assigned to volumes/issues of the Publication, the Article in Press version will be removed and the final version will appear in the associated published volumes/issues of the Publication. The date the article was first made available online will be carried over.

Jongmyoung Lee, Sunwook Hong, Young Kyung Song, Sang Hee Hong, Yong

Chang Jang, Mi Jang, Nak Won Heo, Gi Myung Han, Mi Jeong Lee, Daeseok
Kang, Won Joon Shim, Relationships among the abundances of plastic
debris in different size classes on beaches in South Korea, Marine
Pollution Bulletin, Volume 77, Issues 1–2, 15 December 2013, Pages
349-354, ISSN 0025-326X,
Abstract: Plastic debris on six beaches near the Nakdong River Estuary, South Korea, was sampled in May and September 2012 and classified into three size classes, large microplastics (1–5 mm), mesoplastics (5–25mm), and macroplastics (>25 mm). The relationships among the abundances of the size classes were then examined. The abundances of each size category in May (before rainy season) and in September (after rainy season) were 8205 and 27,606 particles/m2 for large microplastics, 238 and 237 particles/m2 for mesoplastics, and 0.97 and 1.03 particles/m2 for macroplastics, respectively. Styrofoam was the most abundant item both in microplastic and mesoplastic debris, while intact plastics were most common in macroplastic debris. The abundances of meso- and micro-plastics were the most strongly correlated. There was a higher correlation between the abundances of macro- and meso-plastics than between macro- and micro-plastics.


Rui P. Vieira, Isabel P. Raposo, Paula Sobral, Jorge M.S. Gonçalves, Katherine L.C. Bell, Marina R. Cunha, Lost fishing gear and litter at Gorringe Bank (NE Atlantic), Journal of Sea Research, Available online 13 October 2014, ISSN 1385-1101,
Abstract: Studies concerning marine litter have received great attention over the last several years by the scientific community mainly due to their ecological and economic impacts in marine ecosystems, from coastal waters to the deep ocean seafloor. The distribution, type and abundance of marine litter in Ormonde and Gettysburg, the two seamounts of Gorringe Bank, were analyzed from photo and video imagery obtained during ROV-based surveys carried out at 60–3015 m depths during the E/V Nautilus cruise NA017. Located approximately 125 nm southwest of Portugal, Gorringe Bank lays at the crossroad between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and is therefore characterized by an intense maritime traffic and fishing activities. The high frequency of lost or discarded fishing gear, such as cables, longlines and nets, observed on Gorringe Bank suggests an origin mostly from fishing activities, with a clear turnover in the type of litter (mostly metal, glass and to a much lesser extent, plastic) with increasing depth. Litter was more abundant at the summit of Gorringe Bank (ca. 4 items·km− 1), decreasing to less than 1 item·km− 1 at the flanks and to ca. 2 items·km− 1 at greater depths. Nevertheless, litter abundance appeared to be lower than in continental margin areas. The results presented herein are a contribution to support further actions for the conservation of vulnerable habitats on Gorringe Bank so that they can continue contributing to fishery productivity in the surrounding region.
Keywords: Marine Litter; Fisheries; Impacts; Gorringe Bank; NE Atlantic; Seamounts

Note to users: Corrected proofs are Articles in Press that contain the authors’ corrections. Final citation details, e.g., volume and/or issue number, publication year and page numbers, still need to be added and the text might change before final publication.

Although corrected proofs do not have all bibliographic details available yet, they can already be cited using the year of online publication and the DOI , as follows: author(s), article title, Publication (year), DOI. Please consult the journal’s reference style for the exact appearance of these elements, abbreviation of journal names and use of punctuation.

When the final article is assigned to an volumes/issues of the Publication, the Article in Press version will be removed and the final version will appear in the associated published volumes/issues of the Publication. The date the article was first made available online will be carried over.

Review of Microplastics in Cosmetics
Scientific background on a potential source of plastic particulate marine litter to support decision-making
H.A. Leslie, PhD

World’s Plastics Associations Promote Sustainability and Resource Recovery, and Renew Commitments to Marine Litter Solutions

ACC Contact: Jennifer Killinger (202) 249-6619

PlasticsEurope Contact: Hanane Taidi, 32 2 676 17 40

PPIA Contact: Peter T. Quintana

“World’s Plastics Associations Renew Commitments to Improve Sustainability”

Manila (December 12, 2014) – At the 25th annual Global Meeting on Plastics and Sustainability, held in Manila, Philippines (Dec. 8 – 10), executives from the world’s leading plastics associations met to discuss and advance sustainability, and to promote solutions to plastic waste management and marine debris. At the meeting, delegates noted strong progress and growth in activities undertaken as part of the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter. Under that program, 60 associations from more than 30 countries have launched 185 separate projects to combat plastic marine debris.

At the meeting, participants also discussed strategies to address sustainability by improving the collection, recycling and recovery of energy from used plastics. Delegates heard from Doug Woodring of the NGO Ocean Recovery Alliance, who challenged the industry to work with other stakeholders and to deploy new technologies to better understand where litter is entering our rivers and waterways.

In addition to leading Philippine companies, meeting participants included plastics associations from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Brazil, the Gulf, Europe, South Africa, and the United States, who analyzed current projects to prevent litter and increase recycling of plastic.

Plastic-Free Summer Festival (16&17 Jan 2015)

Friday 12th of December 2014

Did you know over five trillion pieces of plastic are floating in our oceans according to the most comprehensive study to date on plastic pollution around the world? It’s not just a problem overseas but also around Australia’s coastlines, and the sources are alarming.

Marine biologist Dr Jennifer Lavers has studied seabirds around the world, in particular looking at the impact of ingesting this plastic. As seen on the ABC Catalyst program Dr Lavers is a lead scientist looking at the impacts plastic pollution is having on wildlife in our oceans. Find out more about the problem, discuss solutions and be part of the change needed.

Organised by the WMRC Earth Carers, the City of Fremantle, Fremantle BID and the Town of Cottesloe this free 2 day community festival offers events for all ages.

MARLISCO e-course about Marine Litter – second edition

2014-12-11 20:21
The second edition of the MARLISCO electronic course about marine litter, “Know, feel, act! to stop Marine Litter”, has been launched. It will run from the 09/01/2015 to the 20/01/2015.
The course is based on the educational material “Know, feel, act! to stop Marine Litter”, a MARLISCO product to be translated and applied in 15 countries by 2015. It contains 17 educational activities examining the characteristics, sources, effects and possible ways to tackle the problem, addressing it from an environmental, societal, cultural and economic point of view. It has been designed to primarily serve middle school level, but can be used also by educators outside the formal schooling system. The e-course serves as a substitute for a 1.5 day face-to-face seminar aiming to train participants on effective ways of teaching about marine litter issues.

Scientists warn nearly 270,000 tonnes of plastic may be floating in world’s oceans

Stephanie Smail reported this story on Thursday, December 11, 2014 18:36:00

MARK COLVIN: It’s floating on the surface, bobbing just under the waves, strangling seabirds and killing fish. It’s plastic in the ocean, and a new study says there’s nearly 270,000 tonnes of it.

International scientists have counted and weighed tiny pieces of plastic, and bigger pieces like plastic bottles and six-pack holders, for the past six years.

Their research has found plastic pollution isn’t just a problem in the well-known garbage patches in remote areas. It’s also lurking close to coastlines, as Stephanie Smail reports.

No part of the ocean untouched by plastic rubbish


ABC Environment 11 DEC 2014

A new study has found that plastic rubbish reaches into almost every corner of the ocean.

VIRTUALLY NO PART of the ocean surface remains untouched by plastic debris, a team of international scientists has found.

Nearly 269,000 tonnes of plastic debris is floating on the surface of the world’s oceans, with some of it occurring in some of the most remote regions of the planet, the scientists report today in the open-access journal PLoS One.

“There are areas of the ocean that have very little plastic, but I don’t think you will find plastic-free seas anywhere in the world today,” said Dr Marcus Eriksen, lead author of the study and Director of Research for the 5 Gyres Institute.

America’s Plastics Makers Support Calls to Address Litter in World’s Oceans

Contact: Jennifer Killinger (202) 249-6619

WASHINGTON (December 10, 2014) – The Five Gyres Institute today released a study that estimates the quantities of plastics in the world’s oceans (“Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea”).

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued the following statement:

“America’s plastics makers wholeheartedly agree that littered plastics of any kind do not belong in the marine environment. Every day, plastics contribute to sustainability by enabling us to reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover more of the resources that we rely on—and by helping to lower energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Even after plastics have fulfilled their initial purpose, these materials should be treated as valuable resources and recycled whenever possible or recovered for their energy value when they cannot.

“Recent multi-stakeholder efforts to develop solutions for marine litter—including a brochure (2014) produced by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP, an advisory group to the United Nations) and the Honolulu Strategy (2011)—have highlighted the importance of using modern, integrated waste management infrastructure and practices to combat marine litter throughout the globe. This includes recycling and energy recovery, and the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division and its member companies support these recommendations.

Good job, humans: The oceans now contain 5 trillion pieces of floating plastic

By Chris Mooney December 10

A major new study of the world’s oceans has reached a shocking conclusion: Thanks to humans, there are now over 5 trillion pieces of plastic, weighing more than 250,000 tons, floating in water around the world.

With a global population of about 7.2 billion, that’s nearly 700 pieces per person.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One by Marcus Eriksen of the Five Gyres Institute in Los Angeles and a large group of colleagues, is based on data from 24 separate ocean expeditions, conducted between 2007 and 2013, to sample plastic pollution. Plastic was either observed from boats, or hauled up from the ocean by nets, in 1,571 locations. The data were then used to run an ocean model to simulate the amount and distribution of plastic debris.

The result not only yielded the estimate of over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the global ocean — it also cast light on how plastic changes within the ocean (breaking down into smaller pieces) and circulates around the globe. Pieces between 1 millimeter and 4.75 millimeters in size were by far the most prevalent class of plastic in the ocean. However, by weight, really large pieces of plastic, greater than 200 millimeters in size, were the most significant.

Study Gauges Plastic Levels in Oceans


It is no secret that the world’s oceans are swimming with plastic debris — the first floating masses of trash were discovered in the 1990s. But researchers are starting to get a better sense of the size and scope of the problem.

A study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One estimated that 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, large and small, weighing 269,000 tons, could be found throughout the world’s oceans, even in the most remote reaches.

The ships conducting the research traveled the seas collecting small bits of plastic with nets and estimated worldwide figures from their samples using computer models. The largest source of plastic by weight comes from discarded fishing nets and buoys, said Marcus Eriksen, the leader of the effort and co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute, a nonprofit group that combines scientific research with antipollution activism.

Full scale of plastic in the world’s oceans revealed for first time

Over five trillion pieces of plastic are floating in our oceans says most comprehensive study to date on plastic pollution around the world

Oliver Milman
Wednesday 10 December 2014 19.00 GMT

More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout the food chain, new research has found.

Data collected by scientists from the US, France, Chile, Australia and New Zealand suggests a minimum of 5.25tn plastic particles in the oceans, most of them “micro plastics” measuring less than 5mm.

The volume of plastic pieces, largely deriving from products such as food and drink packaging and clothing, was calculated from data taken from 24 expeditions over a six-year period to 2013. The research, published in the journal PLOS One, is the first study to look at plastics of all sizes in the world’s oceans.

Large pieces of plastic can strangle animals such as seals, while smaller pieces are ingested by fish and then fed up the food chain, all the way to humans.

Environmentalists Go to Battle Over Face Wash

Katy Steinmetz @katysteinmetz
Dec. 10, 2014

Environmentalists are hoping a landmark report about how much plastic is in the world’s oceans will help get bans on small plastics passed

Face washes claiming to be “blackhead erasers” or “superfruit scrubs” may seem appealing for scrubbing your way to a fresh new face, but some of them also contain an ingredient that environmental advocates and lawmakers are trying to ban. Tiny, round bits of plastic known as microbeads, no bigger than a grain of couscous, may pose hazards in the natural world.

These little orbs, introduced to replace harsher exfoliants like pumice, are so small that after they’re washed down the sink or tub, they sneak through sifters at water treatment plants and end up in the ocean and other bodies of water. Once in the ocean, researchers have found, these plastics act like sponges for toxins, and can be accidentally ingested by fish, thus ending up in the food chain.

Several states considered bills to ban microbeads last session, but only Illinois passed a law, becoming the first state to do so. Now lawmakers in at least three states are gearing up for another go in 2015.

Autopsy finds plastic bag in dolphin’s stomach after failed rescue

By Nonee Walsh
Posted 28 Nov 2014, 7:34am

A dolphin rescued off Sydney’s northern beaches earlier this week has been euthanased after becoming stranded for a second time.

It took six men to refloat the three-metre Risso’s dolphin after they found it in trouble on Curl Curl Beach on Monday.

The mature female dolphin went back out to sea but became stranded again at Kurnell, in Sydney’s south, on Tuesday evening.

An autopsy performed at Taronga Zoo revealed a plastic bag was blocking its stomach, Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORRCA) president Ronnie Ling said.


(Visited 6 times since January 1st 2018. 1 visits today)

2 thoughts on “Plastic in the Sea – Studies

Leave a Reply