Macroplastic and Microplastic Monitoring Study -A Case study of the plastic pollution in two beaches of the Canary Islands-

Alejandra Rodriguez Morales

Studenteropgave: Speciale


Since 1972, the problem of the plastic debris in the ocean has shown signs of cumulative
degradation due to the use and disposal of plastics. Increasing awareness is noticeable in
the last decade however, harmonisation of plastic monitoring methods is still not
universal. Such a lack of agreement makes it difficult to compare and track further studies.
However, to better understand the manifestation of plastic pollution in the Atlantic Ocean,
this paper determines the concentrations of microplastics and macroplastics in two
beaches on two islands in the Canary Current: La Graciosa and Lanzarote. Interestingly,
despite being located in highly-protected natural areas, these two beaches examined
within this paper are exceedingly vulnerable to microplastic and macroplastic pollution.
The research investigated the accumulation of plastic debris in a remote beach called
Ámbar, located in La Graciosa island. And an urban Famara beach in the touristic
Lanzarote island, both beaches are located in the Canary Islands-Spain.
The findings during the one-day monitoring in each beach conclude a result of
Macroplastic units n=88 and n=46 in Ámbar and Famara beach respectively. All the
results were collected and recorded on Marine LitterWatch app created by the European
Environmental Agency (EEA). In this survey, a high percentage of naval activities and
single used plastic items were found. On the other side, microplastics were sampled in
the high tide line (S1) and in the seaweed line (S2) from a previous spring tide before the
field monitoring was realized. A total number of n=97 was found in the remote island, in
comparison with n=57 units in the urban island. In which around 80% are fragments in
both areas. Polyethylene (PE) and Polypropylene (PP) were the most common
composition of plastic particles showing black, blue, green, white as the most
representative colours in both beaches.
Additionally, a special case in the backshore of Famara beach highlighted substantial
units of microplastics n=273. In comparison, a greater percentage of pellets were found
(21.5% more than S1-S2). When taking into consideration that Lanzarote does not present
any plastic manufacture industry, the results can be seen as peculiar in this thesis. The
present research provides further assumptions of possible sources of the plastic litter
found during the monitoring.
This paper contributes to manifest the highly plastic pollution by evidences. After
studying in a detailed categorization analysis, difference prevalence’s between these two
areas of the study and different usage of the beaches the results indicate Ámbar, the
remote and wild beach shows a plastic pollution two times more than Famara beach.
Showing that the onshore activities have little to do with prevalence in this case.

UddannelserMiljøbiologi, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato1 jan. 2020
Antal sider89
VejledereNikoline Bang Oturai