Broad scale sampling methods for microplastic monitoring in the open ocean waters remain a challenge in oceanography, as a large number of samples is required to understand the distribution, abundance and fate of these particles in the environment.
As a result of the research work carried out by Ph.D. student Tania Montoto within the Research Group on Technologies, Management and Environmental Biogeochemistry, with important collaborations such as the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands, a scientific article has been published in the journal PLOS ONE, which is already available at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0232744
Since 2017, the maintenance missions of the ESTOC Oceanic Station (European Oceanic Time Series Station) operated by PLOCAN, as well as the sampling campaigns carried out both in ESTOC and in the coastal waters Test Site, have served as an opportunity platform for the systematic determination of microplastics in subsurface waters.
The article presents a highly versatile and precise microplastic sampling method, capable of recovering particles of down to 50 μm (the diameter of a human hair!) without interfering with navigation. Preliminary data reveals the presence of these particles in all the stations and transects sampled, with the fibers (64.42%) predominating over the fragments (35.58%), with concentration values within the ranges reported for other areas of the Atlantic.
Although more trials in the region will be necessary to increase the spatial and temporal coverage of the measurements and to identify the possible influence of environmental factors on the concentrations and trends of microplastics in the Canary Islands region, this work undoubtedly contributes in an emerging study area, helping to increase the monitoring of the state of the quality of marine waters and helping to implement and monitor the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).