Sami Abidli, Joana C. Antunes, Joana L. Ferreira, Youssef Lahbib, Paula Sobral, Najoua Trigui El Menif,
Microplastics in sediments from the littoral zone of the north Tunisian coast (Mediterranean Sea), Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Available online 7 March 2018, ISSN 0272-7714
The distribution of microplastics (MPs) was investigated in the
sediments of five sampling sites from the northern Tunisian coast during
June 2017. MPs were categorized according to type, colour and size.
Representative MPs from the five sites were isolated for polymer
identification using Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectroscopy in
attenuated total reflectance mode (FTIR-ATR). Results showed that MPs
were recovered, from all sediment samples, indicating for the first
time, their extensive distribution in Tunisian coast. Concentrations
varied from 141.20 ± 25.98 to 461.25 ± 29.74 items kg−1 dry weight.
Fibres, fragments, Styrofoam®, pellets and films were the types
registered in this study. With the exception of Menzel Bourguiba (MB),
fibres significantly outnumbered plastic particles followed by
fragments, Styrofoam®, films and pellets. The predominant colours are as
follows: black > clear > white > red > blue > green for fibres,
blue > white > clear > red > green > yellow > black for fragments,
blue > white > black > clear for films while only white pellets and
Styrofoam® were found. MPs particles ranged from 0.1 to 5 mm in length.
A total of three polymer types were identified, polyethylene (PE),
polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS). Except for industrial pellets,
the presence of MPs is likely due to the degradation of marine plastic
debris accumulating in each site. This work provides original data of
the presence of MPs in coastal sediments from Northern Tunisian coast.