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Beached microplastics in the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea

Constant, Mel, Kerhervé, Philippe, Mino-Vercellio-Verollet, Morgan, Dumontier, Marc, Sànchez Vidal, Anna, Canals, Miquel, Heussner, Serge
Marine pollution bulletin 2019 v.142 pp. 263-273
beaches, coasts, microplastics, sediments, water pollution, wind, Mediterranean Sea
Microplastics are small (<5mm) fragments of plastic debris that are ubiquitous in coastal areas and in open ocean. We have investigated the occurrence and composition of microplastics in beach sediments from the micro-tidal Northwestern Mediterranean Sea. Samples were collected on two beaches (northern and southern site) of the western Gulf of Lion showing markedly different characteristics. Sampling was performed along depositional lower, mid and upper beaches and repeated after 1month. Concentrations of microplastics in the northern and southern site were highly variable, ranging from 33 to 798 and from 12 to 187 microplastics per kg of dry sediment, respectively. Highest concentrations were found at three specific locations: nearby a local river mouth, within an accretionary area and in a depositional upper beach. The spatial and temporal distribution of beached microplastics seems to be directly dependent on external forcing such as wind, swell, precipitation, outflow and river mouth proximity.