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The abundance of microplastics in cnidaria and ctenophora in the North Sea
journal contributionposted on 08.11.2021, 04:32 by Ria Devereux, Mark GJ Hartl, Mike Bell, Angela CapperAngela Capper
Microplastic (MP) ingestion has been widely recorded in aquatic organisms, but few studies focus on cnidarians and ctenophores, which form a significant contribution to marine trophic interactions. Scyphozoans (Cyanea capillata, C. lamarckii and Aurelia aurita), hydrozoan (Cosmetira pilosella) and ctenophores (Beroe cucumis and Pleurobrachia bachei) collected opportunistically from Orkney, Shetland and the North Sea were thermally disintegrated, with a subsample of ingested plastics analysed using FTIR. A total of 1,986 MPs were counted (94% fibres), the majority (84.4%) in the four cnidarian species. Highest MP concentrations were recorded in B. cucumis (0.956 ml-1), whilst C. pilosella yielded the lowest (0.014 ml-1). The main polymers in digestate were PET and PP, with 27% discounted as non-plastics. In feeding trials, A. aurita ingested a greater quantity of PET fibres (60-80%), compared to nylon (0%) and HDPE fibres (0%). This study demonstrates cnidarians and ctenophores, a largely overlooked group, are a potential route for MPs entry into food webs.