Floating microplastics in a coastal embayment: A multifaceted issue
Floating microplastic debris at the ocean's surface represents about 1% of all plastics found in the environment, with the remainder thought to be either deposited along the coast or sinks to the bottom of the ocean. This exploratory research on a coastal embayment in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean assesses floating microplastic densities and the potential influence of wind. A total of 1182 floating microplastic particles were retrieved from a total surface seawater volume of 2039.86 m3. The average microplastic density (0.56 ± 0.33 MP m−3) is based on a sample of 20 manta trawls. This study reports primary microplastics (microbeads) floating in Irish coastal waters for the first-time. Compared to similar bays in Europe, Galway Bay has a similar microplastic density range. Microplastics in surface waters are a multifaceted issue therefore, multiple types of sample collection along with associated environmental variables are recommended for coastal monitoring purposes.