Microplastics in marine species within the Wadden Sea along the coastline of Lower Saxony, Germany

, Schwarz Matthias, Polt Laura, Dau Kirsten, Fischer Elke.

The aim of the study is to evaluate the occurrence and distribution of potential microplastic contamination in species of the Wadden Sea of Lower Saxony, Germany and to develop prerequisites for future monitoring approaches. Furthermore, potential correlated species- and individual-related factors such as size/weight, trophic level, feeding strategy are assessed and spatial gradients and further influencing factors are evaluated. Fish samples were taken in July 2018, invertebrate samples in September 2019 and June/July 2020 at six locations along the North Sea coastline of Lower Saxony, Germany. The species studied included the benthic species blue mussel (Mytilus edulis), common periwinkle (Littorina littorea), lugworm (Arenicola marina), mud shrimp (Corophium spp.) and the demersal fish species flounder (Platichthys flesus). Subsequently to sampling, the whole organisms and digestive tracts of Platichthys flesus were investigated at the laboratory of MRC. Laboratory analysis comprised dissection and digestion of biogenic organic material with a solution of potassium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite. Samples were transferred to cellulose filters (613, VWR International, 5-13 μm retention) and stained with the lipophilic dye Nile Red (1 mg/ml in chloroform) prior to counting and scaling of microplastic particles implementing fluorescence microscopy (Axioscope 5/7 KMAT, Zeiss). A subset of particles identified as synthetic polymers was additionally analyzed with µRaman imaging (DXR2xi Raman Imaging Microscope, Thermo Fisher Scientific). Results on microplastic findings both for the investigated species, potential spatial patterns and influencing parameters will be presented.

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