Broad scale sampling methods for microplastic monitoring in the open ocean waters remain a challenge in oceanography, as a large number of samples is required to understand the distribution, abundance and fate of these particles in the environment. The Canary Oceanic Platform (PLOCAN) collaborates with the ULPGC in developing new methods for detecting microplastics in ocean water. In particular, the ESTOC Oceanic Station (European Oceanic Time Series Station) and the coastal test-site operated by PLOCAN, was used for developing and testing a new method for the systematic determination of these pollutants on board of Oceanographic Research Vessels (RV). The PhD student at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) Tania Montoto, who has been involved in sampling missions for over two years, has just published the results of her work in the open-access journal PLOS ONE , which is already available at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0232744#sec009
The report shows preliminary data and a description of the sampling technique using a device connected to the continuous water acquisition system of oceanographic ships, thus allowing sampling to measure the abundance and distribution of microplastics in surface waters systematically. The method is very efficient, versatile and precise, capable of capturing particles of up to 50 μm, helping to expand the availability of microplastic data in vast oceanic areas. The method provides a useful approach to follow up the temporal evolution of the distribution of microplastics, supporting the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Preliminary results measured during three consecutive oceanographic cruises show microplastic particles at all stations and sampled transepts. Fibers (64.42%) predominated over fragments (35.58%), with concentration values within the ranges of data reported for other areas of the Atlantic.