Concentration of marine litter on the beaches of the Galapagos Islands and main factors that influence its distribution.

, Sánchez-García Natalia, Sánz-Lazaro Carlos.

Plastic pollution is a growing environmental concern that affects all areas on earth even remote islands such as Galapagos Islands. In this study, macrodebris and meso- and microplastics were sampled in several beaches of the Galapagos Islands to estimate their concentration. Environmental parameters, such as orientation, degree of use and slope of each beach and distance from the population center were measured to study test if they played a relevant role in the accumulation of marine debris. For that purpose, protocols for the characterization, extraction and quantification of plastics in the study area were development and Raman spectroscopy was used to identify the type of polymer of the microplastics. Here, we present preliminary data of this study. Plastics constitute a 98.8% of the total number of macrodebris. The abundance of plastics in the sampled beaches in Galapagos Islands is 9.87 ± 2.15 macroplastics/m2 and 1489 ± 183 mesoplastics/m2, despite the differences among beaches is notable. Polyethylene (PE) is the most common type of microplastics. Marine currents and the accumulation of macroplastics may be the main factors affecting the distribution of plastics of a more reduced size through their degradation. Fibers, fragments and films are the most abundant types of plastics, especially those derived from fishing activities. Galapagos Islands could serve as an indicator of the plastic pollution from the surrounding continents and of the activities developed around them. However, it is necessary to carry out complementary studies to confirm this.

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