MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, vol.119, pp.22-30, 2016 (SCI-Expanded)
The Black Sea has a high risk of plastic pollution given the high river discharge of several industrialized countries into this semi-enclosed sea. Here, for the first time, the occurrence and distribution of microplastics are reported for the Black Sea. Microplastics were assessed from zooplankton samples taken during two cruises along the south eastern coast of the Black Sea in the November of 2014 and February of 2015. In each cruise neuston samples were collected at 12 stations using a WP2 net with 200 mu m mesh. Microplastics (0.2-5 mm) were found in 92% of the samples. The primary shapes were fibres (49.4%) followed by plastic films (30.6%) and fragments (20%), and no micro beads were found. Average microplastic concentration in November (1.2 +/- 1.1 x 10(3) par. m(-3)) was higher than in February (0.6 +/- 0.55 x 10(3) par. m(-3)). Reduced concentrations in February were possibly caused by increased mixing. The highest concentrations of microplastics were observed in offshore stations during November sampling. The heterogeneous spatial distribution (0.2 x 103(-33) x 10(3) par. M-3 for all samples) and accumulation in some stations could be associated to transport and retention mechanisms linked with wind and the dynamics of the rim current, as well by different sources of plastic. There were no statistically significant differences in MP concentration between sampling stations and sampling periods (t test, p < 0.05).The relatively high microplastic concentrations suggest that Black Sea is a hotspot for microplastic pollution and there is an urgency to understand their origins, transportation and effects on marine life. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.