Plastic contamination of a Galapagos Island (Ecuador) and the relative risks to native marine species

Jen S. Jones, Adam Porter, Juan Pablo Muñoz-Pérez, Daniela Alarcón-Ruales, Tamara S. Galloway, Brendan J. Godley, David Santillo, Jessica Vagg, Ceri Lewis

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35 Citas (Scopus)


Ecuador's Galapagos Islands and their unique biodiversity are a global conservation priority. We explored the presence, composition and environmental drivers of plastic contamination across the marine ecosystem at an island scale, investigated uptake in marine invertebrates and designed a systematic priority scoring analysis to identify the most vulnerable vertebrate species. Beach contamination varied by site (macroplastic 0–0.66 items·m−2, microplastics 0–448.8 particles·m−2 or 0–74.6 particles·kg−1), with high plastic accumulation on east-facing beaches that are influenced by the Humboldt Current. Local littering and waste management leakages accounted for just 2% of macroplastic. Microplastics (including anthropogenic cellulosics) were ubiquitous but in low concentrations in benthic sediments (6.7–86.7 particles·kg−1) and surface seawater (0.04–0.89 particles·m−3), with elevated concentrations in the harbour suggesting some local input. Microplastics were present in all seven marine invertebrate species examined, found in 52% of individuals (n = 123) confirming uptake of microplastics in the Galapagos marine food web. Priority scoring analysis combining species distribution information, IUCN Red List conservation status and literature evidence of harm from entanglement and ingestion of plastics in similar species identified 27 marine vertebrates in need of urgent, targeted monitoring and mitigation including pinnipeds, seabirds, turtles and sharks.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo147704
PublicaciónScience of the Total Environment
EstadoPublicada - 1 oct. 2021


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