Oral Presentation Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Australasia 2021

Ingestion and Depuration of Microplastics by a Planktivorous Coral Reef Fish, Pomacentrus amboinensis (#90)

Marina Santana 1 2 , Amanda Dawson 1 , Cherie Motti 1 , Carine Lefevre 1 , Lynne van Herwerden 2 , Frederieke Kroon 1
  1. Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Townsville, QLD, Australia
  2. College of Science and Engineering , James Cook University (JCU), Townsville, QLD, Australia

Concerns about microplastic potential impacts on marine organisms are usually associated with uptake, especially via ingestion. This study used environmentally relevant exposure conditions to investigate microplastic ingestion and depuration kinetics of the planktivorous damselfish, Pomacentrus amboinensis. Irregular shaped blue polypropylene (PP) particles (125–250 μm), and regular shaped blue polyester (PET) fibers (600–700 μm) were selected based on physical and chemical characteristics of microplastics commonly reported in the marine environment, including in coral reef ecosystems. Individual adult damselfish were exposed to a single dose of PP and PET at concentrations reported for waters of the Great Barrier Reef (i.e., environmentally relevant concentrations, ERC), or future projected higher concentrations (10x ERC, 100x ERC). Measured microplastic concentrations were similar to their nominal values, confirming that PP and PET were present at the desired concentrations and available for ingestion by individual damselfish. Throughout the 128-h depuration period, the 88 experimental fish were sampled 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, and 128-h post microplastic exposure and their gastrointestinal tracts (GIT) analyzed for ingested microplastics. While damselfish ingested both experimental microplastics at all concentrations, body burden, and depuration rates of PET were significantly larger and longer, respectively, compared to PP. For both microplastic types, exposure to higher concentrations led to an increase in body burden and lower depuration rates. These findings confirm ingestion of PP and PET by P. amboinensis and demonstrate for the first time the influence of microplastic characteristics and concentrations on body burden and depuration rates. Finally, despite measures put in place to prevent contamination, extraneous microplastics were recovered from experimental fish, highlighting the challenge to completely eliminate contamination in microplastic exposure studies. These results are critical to inform and continuously improve protocols for future microplastics research, and to elucidate patterns of microplastic contamination and associated risks in marine organisms.