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Goldstein, M. C., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, USA, mgoldstein@ucsd.edu
Rosenberg, M. R., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, USA, marcirena@gmail.com
Cheng, L. ., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, USA, lcheng@ucsd.edu

INCREASED ABUNDANCE AND ECOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS OF PLASTIC MICRODEBRIS IN THE NORTH PACIFIC SUBTROPICAL GYRE

Reports of plastic debris in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG), particularly microdebris less than 5 mm in diameter, have been cause for significant public concern. However, the distribution, abundance, and ecological effects of pelagic plastic debris remain largely unknown. We compared neuston samples from 1972-3 to those collected in 2009-2010. The median concentration of neustonic plastic microdebris increased from 0.001 particles m-2 in 1972-3 to 0.310 particles m-2 in 2009-2010. Microdebris particles were inhabited by a subset of the North Pacific subtropical rafting community, and associated with increased abundance of the pelagic insect Halobates sericeus. In a series of 24-hour incubation experiments, neustonic zooplankton ingested polyethylene spheres 25-45 µm in diameter. These results are a first step to understanding the ecological implications of plastic microdebris in the NPSG.

Poster presentation

Session #:186
Date: 2/23/2012
Time: 10:30 - 16:00
Location: Poster/Exhibit Hall

Presentation is given by student: Yes

PosterID: A0638