Panaji: Locations like Mumbai, Cape (Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu) and Goa have the “highest abundance” of microplastics in the sea when compared to other places in the Eastern Arabian Sea (EAS), a research paper has revealed.
A group of scientists from CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, including Priyansha Gupta, Mahua Saha, V Suneel, Chayanika Rathore, A V Chandrasekhararao and C K Junaid as well as G V M Gupta from the Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology in Puthuvype in Kochi have published this paper in the scientific journal ‘Science of the Total Environment’.
The study, for the first time, has narrated the distribution, characterization of microplastics (MPs) and influence of hydrodynamics and risk assessment in the surface sediments of EAS with selected depths, the researchers said.
The study concluded that North EAS showed maximum MP concentration, followed by Central EAS and South EAS.
“Among all distinct locations, Mumbai, Cape (Kanyakumari) and Goa showed the highest abundance of MPs,” the paper stated.
Sampling on various shores have revealed that fibres and MPs of sizes ranging from 300 micrometer to 5 mm prevailed in all locations along the coasts of EAS, irrespective of the water depths, it informed.
“The meteo-oceanographic data showed the EAS (8-20o N shelf region) is a potential microplastic accumulation zone during the summer monsoon (August). A micro-FTIR analysis revealed polypropylene, polyisoprene (PIP), butyl rubber and low density polyethylene (LDPE) are the most detected polymers, which illustrated the probable sources of litter discharges, fishing industry, and active marine navigation in the EAS region,” the paper said.
“Considering the limited number of MP studies in the IO, findings from the present study contributed novel details regarding the distribution and fate of microplastics to fully understand this region’s origins, movements, hydrodynamic settling, and fates of MPs during the summer monsoon,” as per the paper.
The team of scientists have suggested that future studies should be performed to evaluate relations among MPs recovered in sediments and their interaction with oil and organic pollutants to better clarify the bio-availability of trophic webs.
Detailing about the intent of the study, the paper mentions that despite the omnipresence of microplastics (MPs), the studies around the western continental shelf of Indian Ocean (Eastern Arabian Sea-EAS) are uncovered and understudied.
“Thus, the present study was focused on understanding the spatial distribution, characterization and risk assessment of MPs in sediment across seven coastal transects all along the EAS shelf,” the paper pointed out.
Researchers said the widespread use of plastics has led to the dawn of what is now referred to as the ‘Plasticene Age’, and in the future, scientists may investigate fossilized plastics in the earth’s strata.