Microplastics and fibres occur in high concentrations along urban coastlines, but the occurrence of microplastic ingestion by fishes in these areas requires further investigation. Herein, the ingestion of debris (i.e., synthetic and natural fibres and synthetic fragments of various polymer types) by three benthic-foraging fish species Acanthopagrus australis (yellowfin bream), Mugil cephalus (sea mullet) and Gerres subfasciatus (silverbiddy) in Sydney Harbour, Australia has been quantified and chemically speciated by vibrational spectroscopy to identify the polymer type. Ingested debris were quantified using gut content analysis, and identified using attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) and Raman microspectroscopies in combination with principal component analysis (PCA). The occurrence of debris ingestion at the time of sampling ranged from 21 to 64% for the three species, and the debris number ranged from 0.2 to 4.6 items per fish for the different species, with ∼53% of debris being microplastic. There was a significant difference in the amount of debris ingested among species; however, there was no difference among species when debris counts were standardised to fish weight or gut content weight, indicating that these species ingest a similar concentration of debris relative to their ingestion rate of other material. ATR-FTIR microspectroscopy successfully identified 72% of debris. Raman spectroscopy contributed an additional 1% of successful identification. In addition, PCA was used to non-subjectively classify the ATR-FTIR spectra resulting in the identification of an additional 9% of the debris. The most common microplastics found were polyester (PET), acrylic-polyester blend, and rayon (semi-synthetic) fibres. The potential of using Raman microspectroscopy for debris identification was investigated and provided additional information about the nature of the debris as well as the presence of specific dyes (and hence potential toxicity).
Environmental Pollution – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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