Authors: Róisín Nash*, Haleigh Joyce, Elena Pagter, João Frias, Janine Guinan, Louise Healy, Fiona Kavanagh, Malcolm Deegan, and David O’Sullivan
ABSTRACT: Microplastics are ubiquitous emerging contaminants found in every habitat surveyed, building upon international databases globally. Costs and accessibility often correlate to few deep sea sediment surveys, restricting the number of stations within a given sampling area. An extensive survey of the Porcupine Seabight, Porcupine Bank, the Goban Spur, and south-western canyons resulted in identifying microplastics in deep sea sediment surface layers from 33 of the 44 stations sampled (75%), with a total of 83 particles (74 synthetic and 9 natural) recorded. No microplastic hotspots were identified, and abundances (kg d.w.−1) were not correlated with distance from land, depth, or the presence of macrolitter on the seafloor. Understanding the sources of deep sea microplastics, such as marine traffic, is crucial to developing effective mitigation strategies as well as further monitoring campaigns targeting microplastic pollution in areas with significant deep sea biodiversity such as the Porcupine Seabright.
KEYWORDS: plastic, continental Shelf, contaminants, currents, ROV