The Vertical Distribution and Biological Transport of Marine Microplastics Across the Epipelagic and Mesopelagic Water Column.

This paper represents a collaborative research project between the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and Arizona State University (ASU).

Researchers from MBARI filtered the surrounding ocean at different depths (5 m – 1000 m) hoping to catch some particles of interest (POIs). Filters were then sent to ASU where Charles Rolsky, the senior scientific adviser for Plastic Oceans International and an author on the paper, visually isolated and extracted POIs. Once this was done, the POIs were taken to a spectroscopic lab where information pertaining to their molecular setup was collected for the purpose of identifying the particle to be biological in nature or plastic. Most of the fibers identified via Raman spectroscopy were found to be plastic. Next, researchers from MBARI filtered crab and larvecean stomachs in order to see if they were able to move the plastic fibers up the food chain. This was confirmed. The plastic fibers extracted from the stomachs matched the spectra of the fibers collected from the surrounding waters suggesting this body of water and potentially many others are contaminated at varying depths by plastic fibers.

Download the study here