One of the recently recognised stressors in Arctic ecosystems concerns plastic litter. In this study, juvenile polar cod (Bore- ogadus saida) were investigated for the presence of plastics in their stomachs. Polar cod is considered a key species in the Arctic ecosystem. The fish were collected both directly from underneath the sea ice in the Eurasian Basin and in open waters around Svalbard. We analysed the stomachs of 72 individuals under a stereo microscope. Two stomachs contained non- fibrous microplastic particles. According to µFTIR analysis, the particles consisted of epoxy resin and a mix of Kaolin with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). Fibrous objects were excluded from this analysis to avoid bias due to contamination with airborne micro-fibres. A systematic investigation of the risk for secondary micro-fibre contamination during analytical pro - cedures showed that precautionary measures in all procedural steps are critical. Based on the two non-fibrous objects found in polar cod stomachs, our results show that ingestion of microplastic particles by this ecologically important fish species is possible. With increasing human activity, plastic ingestion may act as an increasing stressor on polar cod in combination with ocean warming and sea-ice decline in peripheral regions of the Arctic Ocean. To fully assess the significance of this stressor and its spatial and temporal variability, future studies must apply a rigorous approach to avoid secondary pollution. Keywords Polar cod (Boreogadus saida) · Microplastic · Arctic · Airborne micro-fibre contamination Introduction were fish species (Kühn et al. 2015). However, this is a rap- idly developing field and the online database ‘Litterbase’ Debris ingestion by a wide range of marine organisms has (Bergmann et al. 2017b) currently holds 168 fish species. been demonstrated in various studies from all over the The commercial value and worldwide consumption of fish world. At least 331 marine species have been documented have triggered an interest to study the abundance of plastic to ingest plastic between the 1960s and 2015 of which 92 in fish, as it raises concerns about human exposure (Roch - man et al. 2015). Marine debris and in particular plastics have been found Electronic supplementary material The online version of this in all ocean basins of the world (Barnes et al. 2009; Eriksen article (https ://doi.org/10.1007/s0030 0-018-2283-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users. et al. 2014; Galgani et al. 2015; Van Sebille et al. 2015). The Arctic region has long been considered a pristine environ- * Susanne Kühn ment, relatively undisturbed by humans. However, recent firstname.lastname@example.org studies have shown that plastic debris has reached the Arctic Wageningen Marine Research, Ankerpark 27, oceanic and sea-ice environments, and its wildlife (Schulz 1781 AG Den Helder, The Netherlands et al. 2010; Obbard et al. 2014; Lusher et al. 2015; Trevail University of Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, et al. 2015b; Bergmann et al. 2017a, c; Buhl-Mortensen and The Netherlands Buhl-Mortensen 2017; Cózar et al. 2017). A suggested pres- Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und ence of an accumulation area in the Barents Sea (Van Sebille Meeresforschung, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, et al. 2015) was supported by Cózar et al. (2017) with recent Germany field data and additional modelling indicating a peak accu - Shimadzu Europa GmbH, Albert-Hahn-Str. 6-10, mulation of plastic in the vicinity of Svalbard and Novaya 47269 Duisburg, Germany Vol.:(0123456789) 1 3 1270 Polar Biology (2018) 41:1269–1278 Zemlya. Microplastics were recorded from Arctic sea-ice Peeken in press). The under-ice layer could thus be a zone cores (Obbard et al. 2014; Peeken in press) and in Arctic of high plastic litter concentration and a source of plastics surface waters where levels of microplastic pollution fell in for organisms such as polar cod foraging in the under-ice the range of those in other areas in the North Atlantic and environment. For this study, juvenile polar cod were inves- the North Pacific (Lusher et al. 2015). tigated for the ingestion of plastics in order to provide a The ingestion of plastic debris by Arctic marine spe- first baseline of marine plastic litter ingestion by a key fish cies has been recorded in organisms ranging from marine species in the Arctic food web which forages specifically in mammals (Martin and Clarke 1986; Finley 2001) to sea- the under-ice habitat. birds (Lydersen et al. 1989; Mallory 2008; Provencher et al. 2010; Trevail et al. 2015a) and blue mussels (Mytilus spp.; Lusher et al. 2017). However, to our knowledge there are hitherto only two reports of litter ingestion by an Arctic fish Methods species, the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus; Leclerc et al. 2012; Nielsen et al. 2013). The incidence of Sampling plastic ingestion in Arctic food webs is likely to increase as plastic pollution rises in the Arctic (Tekman et al. 2017). Samples of polar cod were collected during three research The ecological consequences of plastic ingestion are cur- cruises in the Arctic between 2012 and 2015 (David et al. rently largely unknown. Large items may get stuck in organ- 2015; Mark 2015; Flores et al. 2016). Details of each cruise isms and obstruct the intestinal tract, and may cause injury such as ship, date and fishing method are presented in or a false sense of satiation (Kühn et al. 2015); very small Table 1. Sample locations are presented in Fig. 1. All indi- particles may translocate and pass to organs or cell with viduals from PS80 and PS92 were collected in ice covered unknown consequences (Jani et al. 1992; Browne et al. 2008; waters, while s fi h from the HE 451.1 expedition were caught Brennecke et al. 2016). Although not covered in this study, in open water. the recent detection of various persistent organic pollutants During the expeditions PS80 and PS92 with the ice adsorbed to passive polyethylene samplers deployed west of breaker RV Polarstern, fish were caught along the under-ice Svalbard (Sun et al. 2016) highlights the potential of transfer surface (0–2 m depth) using Surface and Under Ice Trawls of toxins upon ingestion by (Arctic) organisms (Tanaka et al. (SUIT). SUIT was designed to sample the upper two metres 2015; Chen et al. 2018). of the water column either in open water or directly beneath Polar cod (Boreogadus saida) is regarded as a key spe- the usually hardly accessible sea ice (Van Franeker et al. cies in the Arctic food web because it is regularly consumed 2009; Flores et al. 2012). Half hour trawls were conducted by top predators (Lønne and Gabrielsen 1992; Mehlum and at speeds between 2 and 3 knots. SUIT consists of a steel Gabrielsen 1993; Weslawski et al. 1994; Hop and Gjøsæter frame with a 2 × 2 m opening, and two nets with different 2013) and because of its high energetic value (Hop and mesh sizes attached (a 0.3 mm mesh and a 7 mm half-mesh). Gjøsæter 2013; David et al. 2015). They occur in large Floats attached to the frame ensure that the trawl stays at numbers directly underneath the Arctic sea ice (Lønne and the surface or the sea-ice underside. A bridle connected to Gulliksen 1989; Gradinger and Bluhm 2004; David et al. one side of the SUIT frame forces the trawl to shear out 2015). Young polar cod are strongly associated with the sideways, away from the wake of the ship, ensuring sam- sea-ice habitat (Gradinger and Bluhm 2004; David et al. pling underneath relatively undisturbed ice floes. A detailed 2015; Kohlbach et al. 2017), as ice-associated amphipods description of SUIT sampling during PS80 is provided by and copepods are its main prey (Lønne and Gulliksen 1989; David et al. (2015). One fish from PS92 was collected with Kohlbach et al. 2017). In the under-ice layer, elevated levels a Rectangular Midwater Trawl (RMT) between 0 and 50 m of microplastics have been reported (Obbard et al. 2014; depth. Table 1 Details on the three research cruises where polar cod (Boreogadus saida) used for stomach content analysis was collected Expedition name Expedition number Research vessel Area Time Fishing gear Number of sta- tions IceARC PS80 Polarstern Eurasian basin August–October 2012 SUIT 11 TRANSSIZ PS92 Polarstern Svalbard shelf, Yermak June 2015 SUIT (+RMT 1 ind.) 5 Plateau HE451.1 Heincke Svalbard: Kongsfjorden, September 2015 Juvenile fish trawl 2 Billefjorden 1 3 Polar Biology (2018) 41:1269–1278 1271 Fig. 1 Map of sample stations for polar cod (Boreogadus saida) from three different research expeditions (HE451.1, squares; PS80, circles and PS92, pentagons). Numbers indicate stations where polar cod was caught (For details see Online Resource 2) 1 3 1272 Polar Biology (2018) 41:1269–1278 Polar cod from open water near Svalbard was caught Airborne fibre contamination with a juvenile fish trawl at depths between 13 and 30 m towed at 2.7–3.3 km for 15 min at depths between 13 and In this study and most other microplastic publications 30 m. To effectively catch small and juvenile fish and (e.g. Foekema et al. 2013; Rummel et al. 2016; Hermsen surface them alive, a fish-lift (Holst and McDonald 2000) et al. 2017), the term ‘fibres’ refers to ‘micro-fibres’, the connected to the juvenile fish trawl was used. omnipresent dust-like bits from clothing, carpets or other woven garments. Micro-fibres in the marine environment are assumed to reach the oceans via sewage facilities (Browne Stomach content analysis et al. 2011) or atmospheric distribution (Dris et al. 2016). More sturdy ‘fibres’ that would not become airborne such In total, 72 individual polar cod were used for the purpose as those derived from, e.g. multifilament ropes, network and of this study. The total length, weight and sex of each fishing line, are addressed as ‘threadlike’ materials. individual were recorded. Although the initial reason for Secondary contamination of samples through airborne stomach analyses was an assessment of diet of the fishes, micro-fibre dust has been observed as a serious problem the samples were also used to assess plastic ingestion. in earlier studies (e.g. Davison and Asch 2011; Foekema The stomachs were dissected from the fish using scissors, et al. 2013; Rummel et al. 2016). Wesch et al. (2017) even which took place either on board or later in the laboratory. showed that such secondary fibre contamination is basically The stomach contents were removed from the stomachs unavoidable in nearly any type of sampling and laboratory by cutting them open and rinsing out the content into a setting, and seriously affects results. For this reason, our clean petri dish using deionised water. All stomachs and primary goal was thus to quantify ingestion of non-fibrous extracted stomach contents were stored in 4% hexamine- plastic particles that are not subject to such airborne bias. buffered formaldehyde-sea water solution. In order to Nonetheless, as the main type of plastics reported in the remove the formaldehyde solution, the stomach contents ice cores of Obbard et al. (2014) concerned micro-fibres were rinsed for a few minutes by placing the sample on a and these micro-fibres are often used in studies to show a 35 µm sieve under a running tap in a fume hood prior to human impact on marine environments, we made all efforts the plastic analysis. to quantify and compare fibre abundance in our samples and After carefully pouring the stomach content in a clean controls. Bogorov counting chamber, samples were checked visu- The fish used for this diet study were, however, dissected ally for plastics, using a Discovery V8 stereomicroscope without a specific protocol to avoid secondary pollution, and (Zeiss, Germany). Suspect items were photographed and it is unclear how many airborne fibres might have polluted measured using an AxioCam MRc with AxioVision40 V the samples before their processing in the plastic study. In 184.108.40.206 software (Zeiss, Germany) and collected for later spite of this caveat, the use of different handling protocols analysis. All suspect particles except micro-fibres were does provide an opportunity to investigate the effect of dif- analysed by µFTIR (Shimadzu FTIR IRTracer-100, Infra- ferent aspects of the handling process on the number of red Microscope AIM-9000, diamond cell (DC-3; Specac) fibres found in a sample. to confirm whether a particle was of synthetic origin and From the combination of different field sampling methods to identify the polymer type. Spectra were measured in and following analytical procedures, we arrived at five dif- transmission mode on different points of the sample to ferent protocols by which our samples had been handled (see avoid disturbance by surface fouling on the particles. Sev- Table 2). All the stomachs collected on Polarstern expedi- eral reference libraries containing about 14,500 spectra tion PS80 (n = 49) were opened and rinsed out prior to the in total were used to compare the detected spectra (Shi- plastic investigations, but subsequent processing differed. In madzu Libraries, STJapan-Europe, standard data base 19 cases (group A), the stomachs were opened and the natu- from Biorad Sadtler and other libraries). ral diet of the polar cod was analysed (see Kohlbach et al. Table 2 Overview of different Protocol Expedition Number of Stomach content Diet studied Umbrella Fibre control method groups for the group samples extracted previously previously above sieve investigation of plastic ingestion by polar cod (Boreogadus A PS80 19 Yes Yes No No saida) B PS80 13 Yes No No No C PS80 17 Yes No Yes No D PS92 9 No No No Yes E HE 451.1 14 No No Yes Yes 1 3 Polar Biology (2018) 41:1269–1278 1273 2017), after which the analysed content was again preserved corresponding p value based on Pearson’s product moment on formaldehyde-sea water solution. correlation coefficient. All statistical tests were conducted In the other cases (group B 13 individuals and C 17 indi- using R version 3.3.1. (R Core Team 2014). viduals), the stomach contents were removed from the stom- ach and preserved directly on formaldehyde-sea water solu- tion, without any prior analysis. The remaining 23 stomachs from the other expeditions (groups D and E) were preserved Results intact after the dissection of the fish, and opened with scis- sors directly before the plastic research was conducted. The The polar cod from PS80 used in this study had an average stomachs that arrived unopened were rinsed with MilliQ length of 78 mm (se 2.74), ranging from 52 to 137 mm. from the outside. During the rinsing of the stomach contents Their average weight was 3.49 g (se 0.49), ranging from of groups C and E (n = 31), a simple plastic sheet umbrella, 0.83 to 18.87 g. The fish from PS92 were larger with an connected to the tap, covered the sample in order to test if average length of 107 mm (se 8.17), ranging from 63 to such addition could reduce potential secondary pollution by 157 mm. Their average weight was 9.58 g (se 1.65), rang- airborne fibres. ing from 1.71 to 24.27 g. Fish caught during the HE451.1 Scissors, tweezers, sieves and dishes were carefully expedition ranged from 44 to 62 mm in size, and had an rinsed with deionised water and inspected underneath the average total length of 55 mm. Their weight ranged from stereomicroscope before use. Precautions to prevent aerial 0.48 to 1.56 g, averaging at 1.01 g. fibre contamination were taken as far as possible by cleaning In total, 8 particles were collected that, from their com- the workspace, wearing blue cotton lab coats, and as short bination of size, shape and/or colour, were suspected to be as possible exposure of samples. Samples were covered with plastic. Fibres were excluded from this selection and dis- a clean glass lid whenever possible during processing and cussed separately below because of the risk of representing analysis. During microscopic analysis of samples in groups secondary contamination. After µFTIR analysis, only two D and E (n = 23), a control petri dish filled with deion- of these particles were confirmed to be synthetic poly - ised water was placed next to the stereomicroscope and was mers, originating from two different individuals from the checked after each sample of the previously unopened stom- expeditions HE451.1 and PS92, respectively (Fig. 2). Of achs. No such controls were used in samples from groups A the two fish that contained plastic, the first was a 93-mm- to C, because those stomachs had already been opened and long male caught during PS92, and the other was a fish processed to various extents before our investigations. No of 46 mm total length caught during HE451.1. The two FTIR measurements were performed on the fibres. plastic particles were identified as two sheets as they were A one-way ANOVA followed by a Tukey’s HSD post hoc both soft and flexible. test was performed to compare the number of fibres between According to the µFTIR analysis, the red sheet the five different handling protocols applied. A non-paramet- most likely consisted of epoxy resins and had a size of ric Wilcoxon Rank Sum test was used to evaluate the effect 0.65 × 0.4 mm. The blue sheet had a kaolin base with of an umbrella on fibre contamination during rinsing of sam- embedded polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) and had a ples between group B (no umbrella) and group C (umbrella), size of 0.59 × 0.17 mm (both spectra and details on identi- but showed no significant reduction of fibres in the sample. fication can be found in Online Resource 1). Both particles These two groups were chosen as both came from the same were thus in the microplastic size range (< 5 mm; Arthur expedition and were further handled in the same way. The et al. 2009; Thompson 2015). same test was used to investigate the effect of the stomach Accordingly, we found non-fibrous microplastic par - being previously opened (B and C) or not (D and E) on the ticles in 0 out of 51 individuals from expedition PS80, amount of fibres in the sample. as compared to 1 of 7 individuals from PS92 and 1 of 14 For groups D and E, control petri dishes were placed individuals from the expedition to Svalbard (HE451.1). next to the work space. With again a non-parametric Wil- This means that the overall frequency of occurrence of coxon Sum Rank test, we tested whether the samples dif- non-fibrous microplastic particles in 2 out of 72 polar cods fered significantly from the controls and whether the con- equals 2.8% for the combined expeditions. trols differed between each other. The correlation between The other six particles that were suspected to be plastic the number of fibres in a sample and the number of fibres initially were analysed with µFTIR as being cotton threads in the corresponding control was tested using Pearson’s (n = 3) and protein (n = 3) and therefore these particles correlation coefficient, which ranges between − 1 and 1 were not counted as plastics. Protein might originate from with 0 indicating no correlation. The significance of found the fish diet such as crustacean shells. The analytical spec- correlations was further tested by calculating a t value and tra are presented in Online Resource 1. 1 3 1274 Polar Biology (2018) 41:1269–1278 Fig. 2 Photograph of micro- plastic found in stomachs of polar cod (Boreogadus saida). Left: sheet HE451.1, fish P628; Right: sheet PS92, fish P590) Table 3 Average number of fibres recorded in the different sample corresponding control was not significant. There was also groups of polar cod (Boreogadus saida) and in the control samples no significant difference in the number of fibres between both controls. Group n Average per sam- Average ple ± SD per con- Although there was a match between the extremes in a trol ± SD sample and simultaneous control (22 fibres in the sample and 49 fibres in its control), linear regression and Pearson’s A 19 10.9 ± 5.3 correlation (t = 2.028, df = 21, p > 0.05) revealed no signifi- B 13 3.1 ± 2.8 cant overall correlation between the number of fibres in the C 17 2.3 ± 2.1 samples and the number of fibres in the controls that could D 9 5.2 ± 7.0 1.7 ± 1.9 be used to create some sort of individual correction for the E 14 7.3 ± 6.7 5.1 ± 12.7 number of fibres in a sample based on the number of fibres in its control. Thus, our best estimate on the impact of aerial fibre contamination during laboratory analysis are the aver - Fibres ages found in controls of groups D and E. Micro-fibres were found in 90.2% of the samples, but in extremely variable quantities between and within the groups, as shown in Table 3 and Fig. 3. The number of fibres per fish Discussion stomach ranged between 0 and 22, and in controls between 0 and 49. The highest mean number of fibres was found in This first study of potential microplastic ingestion by the stomachs of the group with the longest time exposed to polar cod sampled over a large part of the Central Arc- the air without any specific protection measures used (Group tic Ocean (CAO) and partly dwelling in the barely acces- A; Fig. 3). sible under-ice habitat indicates that polar cod probably The number of fibres in group A was significantly higher do ingest microplastics, albeit at very low frequencies. than in groups B, C and D (ANOVA F = 9.12, p < 0.00; 4,67 However, we have no comparison for our data with other Tukey’s HSD, p < 0.05). The number of fibres in the stom- aquatic organisms living within the sea-ice habitat. Our achs from group E was significantly higher than those in overall result of 2.8% frequency of occurrence of ingested group C (ANOVA F = 9.12, p < 0.00; Tukey, p = 0.03). 4,67 non-fibrous microplastic particles among 72 polar cod is There was no significant difference in the number of fibres similar to the level of plastic ingestion observed in the between the remaining groups (Groups B, C and D). The full gastrointestinal tracts of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) stomachs that had been opened before our plastic investiga- from Newfoundland, where 2.4% of 205 fish analysed con- tions did not have significantly more fibres per sample than tained non-fibrous plastic (Liboiron et al. 2016). Prok - the ones that were first opened during our own analysis. horova and Krivosheya (2013) reported two incidents in However, as samples came from different expeditions this the Barents Sea of an Atlantic cod found to be entangled result should be interpreted with caution. in fishing line and one individual with ingested plastic. By For both groups D and E, the mean number of fibres contrast, no plastic was detected in the stomachs of 114 was higher in the analysed stomachs than in the controls. Atlantic cod from northern Norway (Lofoten Islands and However, the difference between the treatment and its 1 3 Polar Biology (2018) 41:1269–1278 1275 Fig. 3 The number of fibres found in the stomachs of polar cod the 25th and 75th percentile. The upper and lower limits of the verti- (Boreogadus saida, blue) according to the five different analysis pro- cal line indicate the minimum and maximum number of fibres in a tocols applied (group A–E; see Table 2 for details). Fibre controls group excluding the outliers (dots), which are numbers that are 1.5 are depicted in yellow (Groups D and E, right side). The horizontal times less or greater than the lower or upper percentiles, respectively. black lines show the median number of fibres for all observations. (Color figure online) The upper and lower limits of the coloured square boxes indicate Varangerfjorden) after visual inspection of the stomach of our samples, we have no reason to assume that synthetic content under a microscope (Bråte et al. 2016). fibres in our samples were derived from ingestion by the Relatively high numbers of marine plastic debris have fish, as most fibres can be explained in terms of secondary been noticed in Northern Fulmars from the vicinity of contamination. If the average numbers of fibres found in Svalbard. In this species, the larger picture of plastic the controls for groups D and E (1.7 and 5.1 fibres, respec- ingestion shows decreases with higher latitude, probably tively) are assumed to have been similar during our analy- related to the distance to highly urbanised areas (Kühn and ses of stomachs in groups B and C (3.1 and 2.3 fibres per Van Franeker 2012). However, within that trend, Trevail stomach), the number of fibres found ingested by the fish et al. (2015a) found a slightly elevated incidence of plastic would be negligible. The much higher number of fibres in ingestion in Northern Fulmars around Svalbard and sug- group A, which has the same source as groups B and C, gested a potential relation with a sixth accumulation area can be explained by exposure during the earlier diet study as modelled by Van Sebille et al. (2015) and Cózar et al. and second time of storage without special precautions (2017). Unfortunately, both the fulmar data and our polar against aerial fibre contamination. Accordingly, our analy - cod data do not have the spatial resolution to evaluate fur- sis could not doubtlessly quantify ingested fibres, even if ther details of the Cózar et al. (2017) model. they may have well been present in the stomachs. This Even though the field of microplastic research is matur - illustrates that it should be kept in mind that the controls ing, there are still examples of recent research where fibres for aerial contamination only cover the phase of our micro- are considered as anthropogenic debris ingested from the scopic analysis for plastics, and that it remains unknown environment, where no controls on airborne fibres are con- how much contamination occurred during the dissection of ducted (or reported) and potential sources of secondary fish and stomachs that have been opened prior to the plas- pollution are neglected (e.g. Steer et al. 2017). Based on tic analysis. The variation found in the numbers of fibres the controls conducted during our analyses, and the poorly in the stomach contents as well as the controls suggest that controlled conditions during earlier steps in the collection there are many factors influencing the rate of pollution, 1 3 1276 Polar Biology (2018) 41:1269–1278 (JPI) Oceans PLASTOX (Direct and indirect ecotoxicological impacts including factors such as number of people present in the of microplastics on marine organisms) project through the Netherlands lab and their behaviour. As a consequence, it was not pos- Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) under the Project Num- sible to assess whether polar cod were affected to a major ber ALW-NWO 856.15.001. Polar research by Wageningen Marine extent by the fibres reported from sea ice (Obbard et al. Research is commissioned by the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs under its Statutory Research Task Nature & Environment WOT- 2014) and in open Arctic seawater (Lusher et al. 2015). 04-009-036. The Netherlands Polar Programme, managed by NWO, When studying microplastic ingestion by marine organ- funds the PhD research by Fokje Schaafsma under Project No. ALW- isms, a protocol should be established that takes proper NWO 866.13.009. Logistics for ship-based field work was provided account of secondary pollution (see e.g. Torre et al. 2016; by the Alfred Wegener Institute under research vessel cruise numbers AWI PS80, PS92 and HE451. Melanie Bergmann was funded by the Hermsen et al. 2017; Wesch et al. 2017) in order to avoid Helmholtz Alliance ROBEX (Robotic Exploration of Extreme Envi- bias in estimates of impacts of anthropogenic waste to ronments), and this study contributes to the Pollution Observatory of marine organisms. the Helmholtz-funded programme FRAM (Frontiers in Arctic Marine The umbrella that was tested during sample rinsing Research). The study is associated with the Helmholtz Association Young Investigators Group Iceflux: Ice-ecosystem carbon flux in polar under the fume hood did not lead to a significant reduction oceans (VH-NG-800) and contributes to the Helmholtz research Pro- of fibres in the samples. This suggests that rinsing was not a gramme PACES II, Topic 1.5. Expedition Grant No: AWI-PS80_01; major contributor to airborne fibre contamination under the AWI-PS92_01. This publication is Eprint ID 44513 of the Alfred given circumstances. However, potential addition of fibres Wegener Institute, Helmholtz centre for polar and marine research. that might occur in tap water, as demonstrated by Kosuth Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Crea- et al. (2017), could not be excluded. As most of the fibres tive Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creat iveco encountered in the current study were supposed to be sec- mmons.or g/licenses/b y/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribu- ondary pollution, no FTIR analysis was performed. FTIR tion, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate analysis would probably help to identify fibres from cloth- credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. ing in contrast to threadlike material derived from fishing gear due to different polymer types used. 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