Accumulation of microplastics in zooplankton from Chonburi Province, the Upper Gulf of Thailand

Authors

  • Charernmee Chamchoy Marine Biodiversity Research Group Department of Biology, Faculty of Science Ramkhamhaeng University , Huamark, Bangkok 10240, THAILAND
  • Darika Buathong Marine Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ramkhamhaeng University
  • Pronsiri Sriwisait Marine Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ramkhamhaeng University
  • Orathep Muresare Marine Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ramkhamhaeng University
  • Makamas Sutthacheep Marine Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ramkhamhaeng University
  • Thamasak Yeemin Marine Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ramkhamhaeng University

Keywords:

Accumulation, Microplastics, Upper Gulf of Thailand, Zooplankton

Abstract

Plastic particles are considered to be microplastics when below 5 mm in length, being fibrous, fragments, pellets or beads. Those particles cannot be digested by marine organisms, causing physiological problems to different animals worldwide. Zooplankton can ingest microplastic, and thus introduce it into the food web, causing bioaccumulation from basic to top levels, which can later reach humans consumers. We investigated the characteristics and abundance of microplastics ingested by different groups of zooplankton. The samples were collected at Ao Bang Lamung beach, Chonburi Province, the Upper Gulf of Thailand by using a standard 120 μm mesh plankton net with mouth diameter of 30 cm, by horizontal hauls. Later analyzed under a stereomicroscope and identified by using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Microplastics were detected at all dominant zooplankton groups here: Chaetognaths, Shrimp larvae, Cyclopoid copepods, Calanoid copepods, and Cirripedia nauplius, except for Harpacticoid copepods. The highest abundance of microplastics was found in Cirripedia nauplius with 1.15 particles per individual, followed by Cyclopoid copepods with 0.5 particles per individual. All microplastics found were fibrous, ranging from 0.1 to 0.5 mm in length. The majority (87.7%) were blue, followed by red (8.7%), while brown and black were less common (1.8%). A total of 63.9% of the microplastics come from polyethylene terephthalate, while 27.9% come from polyurethane, and only 8.2% are rayon. We found evidence that zooplankton ingest microplastic in the Upper Gulf of Thailand, potentially introducing it into the local food web. A higher abundance of particles from PET origin evidence a high level of domestic trash and land bourne microplastics, possibly carried by the rivers to ocean waters. Microplastics are one of the main environmental challenges nowadays, worldwide, this study indicates its presence in zooplankton of the Upper Gulf of Thailand, and urgent measures are needed to prevent human consumption and related health problems.

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2021-04-30

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