Characterisation of an unexplored group of microplastics from the South China Sea: Can they be caused by macrofaunal fragmentation?

Date of publication 15 Jun 2020

Authors Po, Beverly Hoi-Ki; Lo, Hoi-Shing; Cheung, Siu-Gin; Lai, Keng-Po.

Sources Marine pollution bulletin : 155, 111151.

DOILink https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111151

Abstract

Research on plastics fragmentation is important for the estimation of amount of microplastics but the biological causes for fragmentation have not been acknowledged. From microplastics collected in the beaches of Hong Kong, we revealed an abnormal type of fragment which has not been reported before. These fragments, composing about 6% of the microplastics (pellet, foam, bead, fragment) collected, were interestingly triangular in shape with at least two of the three sides being characteristically straight and resembling a cut made by compression. Objective observations have distinguished these “trimmed triangular fragments” to those triangular fragments that were fractured randomly. By comparing with additional evidence, we proposed that these trimmed fragments were the daughter pieces of macrofaunal biting. If this was so, there would be wide implications on fragmentation modeling studies for microplastics since active biting of large plastic debris has generally not been considered as a factor of plastics fragmentation.

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