Queen Conch as Indicator of Pollution by Microplastics in the Caribbean
AuthorsDalila Aldana Aranda;Hazel Oxenford;Claude Bouchon;Gabriel Delgado;Marion Bardet;Eve Mouret;Fred Hernández Perea;Geonel Rodriguez Gattorno;José Bante Guerra;Victor Castillo Escalante;Martha Enríquez Díaz Download PDF Open PDF in Browser
The occurrence of microplastics in the marine environment is increasing worldwide. These particles are now present in marine sediments and in the water column where they can be ingested by marine organisms. This study was carried out to quantify and analyse microplastics in the wider Caribbean using the mollusc, queen conch (Strombus gigas), as an indicator species, and a non-destructive method of sampling. Between three and seven conchs were sampled in each of four sites: Alacranes Reef (Mexico), Florida Keys (USA), Guadeloupe (FWI) and Barbados. Feces from each live conch were collected for analysis. Microplastics were extracted by degradation of organic matter, re-suspended and analysed by stereomicroscope and scanning electron microscope. The protocol used in this study was successful and showed the presence of microplastics in all the conchs sampled. Various forms of plastic particles were found including fragments (the dominant form), fibres and sheets (the least abundant form). The shape of spheres was observed, but in very low quantities, which is why they were not considered in the abundance results. Conchs from Alacranes Reef and Florida had a higher abundance of microplastics than conch from the Eastern Caribbean sites.