The data provides information relevant to determining time series estimates of anthropogenic marine debris contamination across the IMOS National Mooring Network (NMN) including National Reference Stations (NRS), with a focus on microplastics (plastics < 5 mm). Specifically, it summarises the physical (i.e., size, shape and colour) properties and chemical nature (i.e., synthetic, semi-synthetic or naturally derived, and polymer type) along with the associated sampling coordinates and field collection data. This dataset, together with other variables already measured across the NMN (e.g., surface salinity, current, plankton, fish larvae), has the potential to provide insight into abundance, spatial distribution and fluctuations in anthropogenic marine debris, as well as identify potential source materials, geographic (i.e., land-based) inputs and fate. Information on such contamination is critical to inform policy and management on marine pollution in Australia’s marine estate and to assess the effectiveness of policy responses.\n
Maintenance and Update Frequency: quarterly
Statement: Field data is generated by IMOS partners conducting microplastics tows across the NMN and includes specific details on location, time and date of collection. The dataset starts in Jan 2016, with monthly sampling tows at the Yongala (YON) NRS site. Note this data is under embargo until Jan 2022 (Miller et al in preparation). In Jan 2020 sampling was expanded to multiple locations across the NMN. Duplicate tows (approx. 10 min duration) are taken at each site and each sampling period (monthly, dependent on site accessibility). Samples are preserved in diluted ethanol (prior to Jun 2020 in 4% formalin) and transported to AIMS for processing. Laboratory processing is conducted at the AIMS laboratory, Townsville, using published standardised microplastic measurement strategies developed in-house (Jensen et al. 2019; Kroon et al. 2018a, b; Miller et al. 2017, Miller et al 2020) and governed by detailed management practices around QA/QC, calibration and provenance. To ensure the robustness of the workflow, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and associated Task Risk Assessments (TRAs) for collecting, processing and analysing marine environmental samples for microplastic contamination are available. \n \n The data is suitable for quantifying marine debris contamination, including microplastics, in Australian coastal and marine waters. Inclusion of such data in numerical simulations will improve understanding of potential sources, transport and fate of microplastics across the NMN (e.g., see Jensen et al. 2019). Finally, anthropogenic marine debris estimates can be used to provide realistic exposure scenarios for effect studies in the field (e.g., susceptibility of larval fish to microplastic contamination at IMOS sampling locations) and the laboratory (e.g., effects on growth and survival of exposed marine organisms) for ecological risk assessments.\n References:\n Jensen, L.H., Motti, C.A., Garm, A.L., Tonin, H., Kroon, F.J., 2019. Sources, distribution and fate of microfibres on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Scientific Reports 9, 9021.\n Kroon, F., Motti, C., Talbot, S., Sobral, P., Puotinen, M., 2018. A work¿ow for improving estimates of microplastic contamination in marine waters: A case study from North-Western Australia. Environmental Pollution 238, 26-38.\n Kroon, F.J., Motti, C.A., Jensen, L.H., Berry, K.L.E., 2018. Classification of marine microdebris: A review and case study on fish from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Scientific Reports 8, 16422.\n Miller, M.E., Kroon, F.J., Motti, C.A., 2017. Recovering microplastics from marine samples: A review of current practices. Marine Pollution Bulletin 123, 6-18.\n Miller, M., Menéndez, P., Motti, C., Kroon, F., 2020. Efficacy of microplastic separation techniques on seawater samples: Testing accuracy using high-density polyethylene. Biological Bulletin 240, 52–66.\n Miller, M.E., Carsique, M., Santana, M.F.S., Brinkman, R., Motti, C.A., Hamann, M., Kroon, F.J., 2022. Influence of temporal and physicochemical properties on plastic contamination at the Yongala shipwreck, Australia. Environmental Pollution 307, 119545.\n Schlawinsky, M., Santana, M.F.M., Motti, C.A., Martins, A.B., Thomas-Hall, P., Miller, M., Lefèvre, C., Kroon, F.J., 2022. Customized vacuum filtration apparatus refines microplastic processing: a case study of the Australian sharpnose shark. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods accepted.\n
Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) is enabled by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). It is operated by a consortium of institutions as an unincorporated joint venture, with the University of Tasmania as Lead Agent.