Gastón Alurralde, Enrique Isla, Verónica Fuentes, Alejandro Olariaga, Tamara Maggioni, Guido Rimondino, Marcos Tatián.

Anthropogenic microfibres flux in an Antarctic coastal ecosystem: The tip of an iceberg?

This study describes the occurrence of anthropogenic microfibres (AMFs) found in sediment trap samples collected at 25 m water depth in an Antarctic fjord (Potter Cove, King George/25 de Mayo Island) from 2012 to 2015. During visual sorting of samples, AMFs were detected and described, and a subset was confirmed, via FTIR (Fourier transform infrared) spectroscopy, as semi-synthetic cellulosic and polyacrylonitrile polymers. Estimated flux of AMF varied from  15 to 152,750 microfibres/m2 throughout the studied period, with sizes ranging from 10 to 450 μm in length. Maximum AMFs fluxes occurred in summer months. Sediment traps allowed detecting temporal patterns of small (μm) AMFs, usually undersampled with nets or sieves, providing a new insight into microplastic pollution in Antarctica and its relation to environmental conditions.