Past event

Where are the floating microplastics in Scotland's seas? MASTS webinar with Marie Russell (Marine Scotland Science) - free

Presented by Dr Marie Russell,
Environment Monitoring and Assessment Programme
Marine Environment Assessment Group
Senior Environmental Scientist

To kick off Plastic Free July, MASTS is delighted to bring a special themed webinar titled “Where are the floating microplastics in Scotland's Seas?”.
After Marie's presentation we will have a live Q&A.

Microplastics range in size from 1 µm to 5 mm and in the marine environment arise from two sources. Primary microplastics such as beads in personal care products or pre-production resin pellets or nurdles, which have been purposefully manufactured to be 'micro'. The other is from the fragmentation or wear and tear of larger plastic items such as plastic bags, plastic bottles or fishing nets and lines -- these are termed secondary microplastics. But ultimately the source of microplastics in the oceans is anthropogenic -- humans produce, use and dispose of the plastics.

This is the first regional, multi-annual study of floating microplastics in Scotland's seas. Sea surface samples were collected from 2014 to 2020 and evaluated for the presence of microplastics. Microplastics were present in the surface waters of all Scottish Marine Regions and Offshore Marine Regions though almost 35% of sample sites contained no microplastics. Concentrations ranged from 0 to 91,128 microplastics km−2 sea surface. Potential hotspots were identified in the Clyde (0--77,168 microplastics km−2), Forth & Tay (0--83,729 microplastics km−2) and the Solway (607--91,128 microplastics km−2). Fragmented plastics accounted for almost 50% of the microplastics recovered and this may suggest that the microplastics in Scotland's seas are predominantly from the breakdown of larger items.

More information on this event