Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment of Microplastics Pollution in the Blackfin Barracuda (Sphyraena genie) in the Oman Sea

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Marine Biology, Faculty of Marine Science, Chabahar Maritime University, Chabahar, Iran

2 Department of Marine Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran



Introduction: Due to the abundance and durability of plastic waste, especially in marine
environments, it has caused significant environmental effects and has become one of the most
serious threats to oceans and biodiversity. Microplastics (1 micrometer to 5 mm), are an
important component of marine plastic pollution. The growing concern over the negative effects
of microplastics on human health has heightened attention to their presence in aquatic
environments and edible aquatic animals. Therefore, the main goal of this research is to
investigate the presence and quantitative (abundance and size) and qualitative (shape and color)
microplastics in the digestive system of blackfin barracuda (Sphyraena genie) in the Oman Sea.
Material and Methods: For this research, 27 pieces of S. genie with an average total length of
42.5 ± 5.36 cm and total weight of 353.5 ± 2.5 grams were collected by local fishermen using gill
nets from the northern shores of the Oman Sea were collected in the winter of 2020 and bioassayed
after being transferred to the laboratory. The extraction of microplastics was done by digesting the
digestive system with ten percent KOH and then vacuum filtration. Identification, counting and
determining the characteristics of microplastics (shape, size and color) were done by
stereomicroscope. Particle dimensions (μm) were measured using ImageJ software.
Results and Discussion: According to the obtained results, 285 plastic particles were detected in
the S. genie on the coast of Oman. All the examined fish had microplastics in their digestive
system. The average abundance of 10.5 ± 5.19 particles per individual and 0.8 ± 0.2 particles per
gram of wet weight microplastics were observed in the digestive system of fish. The most
identified microplastics were in the form of fiber (abundance: 73%), irregular fragments (26%)
and film (1%). The identified microplastics were of various dark and light colors. The color
combination according to abundance was black > gray > transparent > cream > red > blue and
dark red > green and brown > pink and white > dark blue and peach. About half of the
microplastics were shorter than 300 μm in length, while only about 9% of the microplastic
particles were between 1 and 5 mm in length. In terms of size, microplastics were classified into
eight groups: category one (size: 1-100 micrometers; 64 microplastics), category two (100-300
micrometers; 85 microplastics), category three (300-500 micrometers; 45 microplastics), category
four (1 mm-500 micrometers; 66 microplastics) category five (1-2 mm; 19 microplastic), category
six (2-3 mm; 5 microplastic), category seven (3-4 mm; 1 microplastic) and category eight (4-5
mm; without microplastics). The size of the fragments of microplastics was smaller than the fiber,
and most of the fragments were less than 100 micrometers in size. Considering the small size of
most microplastic particles and the presence of small fish remains (skulls, scales and gill fibers)
and shell fragments in the digestive system of fish and the carnivorous diet of the S. genie, it can
be assumed that the source of the microplastic particles swallowed by these fish, which represent
environmental pollution with plastic waste is the secondary microplastics in this area.
Conclusion: Microplastic particles were observed in the digestive tract of all the examined
samples of S. genie. The isolated microplastics were in the form of fiber, irregular fragments
and films. Black, gray, and transparent colors were evident as the dominant colors, and fiber
was the dominant shape in microplastics. Microplastics with a size of 1 mm and less were the
most abundant (92%) size. The existence of microplastics in the investigated fish leads to
ecological and health concerns. Therefore, it is necessary to manage the entry of plastic
pollutants into the marine environment.


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