Plasticrusts: new type of rocky pollution

Scientists of MARE, Marine And Environmental Sciences Centre, presented a new type of plastic pollution - ‘plasticrusts’ – a plastic debris encrusting the rocky surface, recently discovered in the intertidal rocky shores of a volcanic Atlantic island. The potential impact of these new ‘plasticrusts’ has to be further explored, because it may potentially be ingestioned by intertidal organisms, so the management and monitoring actions should be pondered on future studys by the scientists. 


Since 2016, rocks of a mid-upper intertidal shore in the South coast of the island (32º44′31′′ N, 16º42′27′′ W) have been covered by plastic debris, presumably generated from the continuous hydrodynamic induced crash of large plastic items against rocks. Reason for the durability and persistence of this plastic debris, witch can make this one of the most significant pollution problems our planet is facing today. 


Abundance of ‘plasticrusts’ already reached a percent cover of 9.46 ± 1.77 (mean ± SE; data obtained through random deployment of 20 × 20 cm quadrats in the area affected by ‘plasticrusts’, n = 10) per square meter of rocky surface in the mid intertidal shore. Two different colors, blue and white, of plastic particles were detected but, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis (Perkin-Elmer Spotlight 200i ATR/FT-IR Spectrum Two spectrometer with ATR accessory, range 650–4000 cm−1) performed on 10 randomly collected samples (5 subsamples from 2016 and 5 from 2019), identified all material as polyethylene (PE) plastic. 


Further studies are necessary to evaluate the importance of this potential new pathway for plastic entering into marine food webs and to understand if this phenomenon could happen in other places like Açores, on continent or even on Islas Canárias.

This study ir already published on Science Direct.