Microplastics in the marine environment

Microplastics pollution on the sandy beach of Watamu Marine National Park.

Subject: Microplastic pollution
Location: Watamu
Leader: Eric Thuranira

Microplastics are plastic particles up to 5mm in diameter. In the last four decades, concentrations of these particles appear to have increased significantly in the oceans.There are two types of sources of microplastics;primary and secondary.Primary sources are manufactured in their micro size such as microbeads used in cosmetics and nurdles that are used as raw materials for plastic products.Secondary sources are formed when larger plastic items break down. Once they are in the environment,animals like fish and shore birds mistake them for food and this causes deaths and habitat destruction. These microplastics have been recorded in twelve out of twenty five most important species and genera that contribute to global marine fisheries and this shows how microplastics are harmful to marine life(Lusher et al., 2017).

 

Concern about the potential impacts of microplastics in marine environment has gathered momentum during the past few years. The number of scientific investigations has increased, along with public interest and pressure on decision makers to respond. At A Rocha Kenya, we want to quantify microplastics abundance by type, colour and size, develop educational materials for our environmental education program and establish monitoring protocols to achieve long term assessment of microplastics pollution on the sandy beach of Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve.

 

The UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 on Life Below Water includes a specific target on plastic pollution to which our work contributes.

Microplastics sampling

A Rocha Kenya volunteers sampling microplastics