|Borgen Bay, near William Glacier, Anvers Island.|
One initiative of the ICEBERGS cruise is to look for microplastics in the waters of two fjords (Marion Cove and Borgen Bay) along the Antarctic Peninsula. Plastics are a ubiquitous problem in the global ocean and the majority of the plastics in the ocean are microscopic and called microplastics. Specifically, microplastics are small plastic particles that are either a result of the breakdown of plastic debris, or manufactured beads or threads. Found in all of the world’s oceans, microplastics are a serious concern for many marine organisms, especially filter-feeding organisms because they filter an enormous volume of water to obtain food. Microplastics have been reported in coastal, deepwater, nearshore, open-ocean habitats and even in waters near Antarctica.
Dr. Alexis Janosik from the University of West Florida, is filtering seawater from the ocean’s surface and bottom to look for microplastics in Antarctic Fjords, where glacial retreat is occurring. These fjords represent some of the most pristine ecosystems on the planet.
We have to take a closer look to characterize and quantify the mciroplastics, but in the photo below you will see some microfibers collected from seawater near King George Island.We have also discovered microfragments, or small broken plastics from larger debris. A second aim of this project is to investigate the impact of microplastics on marine organisms in Antarctica. We will obtain more results after processing samples back in the lab.
|Microplastics on filter to be processed and counted.|