2019 Ligurian-Tyrrhenian Sea
These days, about 320 million tourists are spending their holidays at the Mediterranean Sea each year.
This tourism means a 40% increase in marine litter during the summer period above and beyond the 208-760 kg of solid urban waste produced annually by the 150 million people living by the Mediterranean basin.
The purpose of this expedition was to conduct a comparative study with the data we collected in the same area in 2018. We would like to see if there are any visible differences in the amount of microplastics found every year or not.
The comparison of the data collected during two weeks in 2019 in the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas with the data from 2018 showed:
The average particle density for this 2019 study is 9 times higher than what was reported in the 2018 study
Average plastic particle concentrations were 255,865 ± 841,221 particles km-2, ranging from 1,286 – 3,814,018 particles km-2
Predominant polymer types were polyethylene (50.3%), polyamide (30.4%), polypropylene (10.9%), and polystyrene (1.9%)
In 2019, the amount of polyamide increased 10% compared to polypropylene, which was found to have almost double the amount
The Azores are a remote group of islands in the Atlantic and at the very end of the North Atlantic Gyre.
This expedition was the first of its kind as so far there has been no microplastic survey conducted in the Azores that would allow us to predict the amount of microplastics in such a remote area.
In order to obtain the most accurate picture possible, detailed data on the quantity and composition of the materials present there is required.