The missing sink - quantification, categorisation and sourcing of beached macro-debris in the Scottish Orkney Islands

Date of publication 3 Aug 2020

Authors Buckingham, J.; Capper, A.; Bell, M.

Sources Marine pollution bulletin : 157,



Around the coastline of the UK, macro-debris has been observed in average densities of over 700 items per metre. Systematic beach-cleans were conducted at 35 sites around the Scottish Orkney Islands, in order to quantify and categorise the level of marine debris found there. Litter was collected from 100 m transects and categorised by its material, broad source (terrestrial or marine) and potential sector source. Variation between sites, and the relative contribution of pre-determined environmental variables in influencing said variation, were analysed using the “capscale” function for a canonical analysis of principle coordinates (CAP). 513 items/m were observed, (77% plastic), with “String/cord (< 1cm diameter)" being the most abundant and widely distributed litter type. 47% of macro-debris was attributed to the fishing sector and < 10% to leisure, living and tourism-associated activities. Conversely, the unique regional hydrodynamics must be examined further, before the source of any given item can be categorically assigned.

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