Quantitative analysis of small-plastic debris on beaches in the Hawaiian Archipelago

Karla J McDermid, Tracy L McMullen
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2004, 48 (7): 790-4
Small-plastic beach debris from nine coastal locations throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago was analyzed. At each beach, replicate 20 l samples of sediment were collected, sieved for debris between 1 and 15 mm in size, sorted by type, counted and weighed. Small-plastic debris occurred on all of the beaches, but the greatest quantity was found at three of the most remote beaches on Midway Atoll and Moloka'i. Of the debris analyzed, 72% by weight was plastic. A total of 19100 pieces of plastic were collected from the nine beaches, 11% of which was pre-production plastic pellets. This study documents for the first time the presence of small-plastic debris on Hawaiian beaches and corroborates estimates of the abundance of plastics in the marine environment in the North Pacific.

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