Ingestion of plastic by fish: a comparison of Thames Estuary and Firth of Clyde populations

Alexandra R. McGoran*, Phillip R. Cowie, Paul F. Clark, James P. McEvoy, David Morritt

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study compared plastic ingestion between pelagic and benthic fish populations from two UK watersheds: the Thames Estuary and the Firth of Clyde. The alimentary canals of 876 individuals were examined. Of twenty-one estuarine species investigated, fourteen ingested plastics, including predator (fish) and prey (shrimp) species. Overall, 32% of organisms ingested plastic, mostly fibres (88% of total plastics). More flatfish (38%) ingested plastics than other benthic species (17%). In the Thames, more plastic was ingested by pelagic species (average number of plastic pieces ingested: 3.2) and flatfish (average number of plastic pieces ingested: 2.9) than by shrimp (average number of plastic pieces ingested: 1). More fish from the Clyde ingested plastic than similar Thames species (39% compared to 28% respectively); however, the average amount of plastic ingested did not differ between the sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-23
Number of pages12
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Early online date4 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2018



  • Microplastics
  • Microfibres
  • Thames Estuary
  • Firth of Clyde fish populations
  • FTIR spectroscopy

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