UDUPI: A team of experts have studied the issue of microplastics pollution in St Mary‘s Island, a popular tourist destination. The island is known for its distinctive geological formation.
The team including Anish Kumar Warrier, associate professor, geology, MIT, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Rizwan Khaleel, an MSc student, Gokul Valsan, a PhD scholar and Nelson Rangel-Buitrago, faculty, basic sciences, University of Atlantica, Colombia, have studied microplastics at the island.
Warrier said, “Microplastics are plastic pieces less than 5 mm in size, that are more harmful than large plastic debris.”
“The world’s oceans contain large amounts of these particles, and their presence is severely affecting marine organisms. The island is a geological heritage site, due to its rocks, which have the characteristic column-shaped structures,” Warrier said.
“When compared to the other islands, especially Andaman and Nicobar, the average abundance value at St Mary’s is relatively low. For instance, the Wandoor Beach in Port Blair, had an average abundance of 249 particles/kg. Nevertheless the presence of microplastics in the sediments and water samples, is a threat to marine biodiversity,” he said.
The study that was published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, states that the average abundance of microplastics on St Mary’s island was 97.2 particles/kg. The samples were collected in January. A sampling technique attenuated total reflectance with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, revealed that microplastics are composed of high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, and polyamide. The research highlighted the presence of harmful pollutants on microplastics surfaces. The pollution largely came from the nearby fishing harbour, touristic beaches and estuaries.
“The results of this study act as a starting point for continuous environmental monitoring, in this unique region of the world. Stakeholders must focus on creating management plans based on plastic reduction at the source since an microplastics-degraded island may see a significant decline in tourism . The beach tourism sector is presently being encouraged, to broaden its appeal on a global and national scale. The major objective of this endeavour must concentrate on finding solutions concerning plastic contamination,” Warrier said.