Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

ORCID

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9790-5417

Date of Graduation

Fall 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Department of Integrated Science and Technology

Advisor(s)

Louis F. Cassar

John J. Borg

Maria C. Papadakis

Amy Goodall

Abstract

Plastic pollution has recently become a widely studied topic, yet research on microplastics has remained lacking for specific geographic regions. Microplastics are small plastics resulting from degradation or the dumping of raw material and can lead to deleterious impacts on the coastal marine environment and its organisms. To assess Malta’s coastal environmental health, water birds (inshore, offshore and pelagic species) were used as bioindicators by assessing the presence and abundance of plastic within their stomach contents. The project hoped to fill some of the current gaps in knowledge on microplastics within Malta by creating a working baseline, as well as develop a standardization for methodology built off of previous seabird plastic ingestion research. Microplastic incidence, abundance by number, and abundance by mass were measured across four different groupings, total seabirds sampled, age, sex, and foraging type. Microplastics were found in 51% of the total seabirds sampled with an average mass of 0.040 grams of plastic found within all seabirds. The deviation from the threshold of 0.1 grams of plastic for 10% of seabirds sampled created in the Northern Fulmar report, this report proposes a new threshold of 0.05 grams of plastic for 10% of seabirds for this region. This measurement along with the data provided will serve as an indicator for Good Environmental Status for Descriptor 10 within the mandates for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

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