An integrative assessment of the plastic debris load in the Mediterranean Sea

Type Article
Date 2022-09
Language English
Author(s) Pedrotti Maria Luiza1, Lombard Fabien1, Baudena Alberto1, Galgani FrancoisORCID2, Elineau Amanda1, Petit Stephanie1, Henry Maryvonne3, Troublé Romain4, Reverdin Gilles5, Ser-Giacomi Enrico6, Kedzierski Mikaël7, Boss Emmanuel8, Gorsky Gabriel1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Université Paris 06, CNRS UMR 7093, LOV, Villefranche sur Mer, France
2 : IFREMER, Laboratoire LER/PAC, ZI Furiani, 20600 Bastia, France
3 : IFREMER, Laboratoire LER/PAC, La Seyne-sur-Mer, France
4 : The Tara Ocean Foundation, Paris, France
5 : Sorbonne Université CNRS/IRD/MNHN (LOCEAN/IPSL UMR 7159), Paris, France
6 : Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Cambridge, MA, United States
7 : Université Bretagne Sud, UMR CNRS 6027, IRDL, F-56100 Lorient, France
8 : School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME, United States
Source Science Of The Total Environment (0048-9697) (Elsevier BV), 2022-09 , Vol. 838 , N. Part 1 , P. 155958 (16p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155958
WOS© Times Cited 11
Keyword(s) Plastic debris, Microplastic, TARA Mediterranean expedition, ZooScan, Mediterranean Sea, Sea surface

The Mediterranean Sea is recognized as one of the most polluted areas by floating plastics. During the Tara Mediterranean expedition, an extensive sampling of plastic debris was conducted in seven ecoregions, from Gibraltar to Lebanon with the aim of providing reliable estimates of regional differences in floating plastic loads and plastic characteristics. The abundance, size, surface, circularity and mass of 75,030 pieces were analyzed and classified in a standardized multi-parameter database. Their average abundance was 2.60 × 105 items km−2 (2.25 × 103 to 8.50 × 106 km−2) resulting in an estimate of about 650 billion plastic particles floating on the surface of the Mediterranean. This corresponds to an average of 660 metric tons of plastic, at the lower end of literature estimates. High concentrations of plastic were observed in the northwestern coastal regions, north of the Tyrrhenian Sea, but also off the western and central Mediterranean basins. The Levantine basin south of Cyprus had the lowest concentrations. A Lagrangian Plastic Pollution Index (LPPI) predicting the concentration of plastic debris was validated using the spatial resolution of the data. The advanced state of plastic degradation detected in the analyses led to the conclusion that stranding/fragmentation/resuspension suggests it is a key process in the dynamics of floating plastic in Mediterranean surface waters. This is supported by the significant correlation between pollution sources and areas of high plastic concentration obtained by the LPPI.

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Pedrotti Maria Luiza, Lombard Fabien, Baudena Alberto, Galgani Francois, Elineau Amanda, Petit Stephanie, Henry Maryvonne, Troublé Romain, Reverdin Gilles, Ser-Giacomi Enrico, Kedzierski Mikaël, Boss Emmanuel, Gorsky Gabriel (2022). An integrative assessment of the plastic debris load in the Mediterranean Sea. Science Of The Total Environment, 838(Part 1), 155958 (16p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :