Microplastics in The Bahamas: A Reconnaissance Quantifying the Prevalence on Selected Beaches in New Providence.





Microplastics, Marine pollution, Plastic waste, Environmental


Plastic substances, unlike organic materials, disintegrate over long periods of time. After degradation, larger plastic materials that are broken down into smaller pieces ranging in sizes of less than 5 mm are known as microplastics. To investigate microplastics on Bahamian beaches, this reconnaissance study was conducted on a total of three beaches in New Providence: Cabbage Beach, Goodman’s Bay, and Montague Beach. A total of 30 samples were collected, including 10 samples from each beach along the high tide line, and assessed for microplastics. The microplastics were then visualized using a dissecting microscope with a magnification of 25x or greater. In the 30 samples, an average of 13.5 microplastics were identified at Cabbage Beach; an average of 15.8 were identified at Goodman’s Bay, and an average of 16.3 were identified at Montague Beach. Fibres were the most prevalent type of microplastic observed, but film, pellets, and fragments were also identified. As the concern for the environments of Small Island Developing States grows tremendously, the need for research on the behavior and accumulation of microplastics is crucial.

Author Biography

Kristen Welsh Unwala, University of The Bahamas

Department of Chemistry, Environment and Life Sciences


Alomar, C., Estarellas, F., & Deudero, S. (2016). Microplastics in the Mediterranean Sea: Deposition in coastal shallow sediments, spatial variation and preferential grain size. Marine Environmental Research, 115, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marenvres.2016.01.005

Ambrose, K. (2018). Tools for marine debris management: A case study of beaches in South Eleuthera, The Bahamas [Unpublished master’s thesis]. Dalhousie University. https://dalspace.library.dal.ca/bitstream/handle/10222/75121/Ambrose_K_MMM_GP_2018Final_Update_forprint.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Andrady, A. L. (2011). Microplastics in the marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 62(8), 1596–1605. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.05.030

Barnes, D. K., Morley, S. A., Bell, J., Brewin, P., Brigden, K., Collins, M., & Taylor, B. (2018). Marine plastics threaten giant Atlantic marine protected areas. Current Biology, 28(19), R1137-R1138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.08.064

Baker, J. E., Foster, G. F., Masura, J. & LaRocque, C. (2012). Concentration of marine microplastics in the Puget Sound. In C. Arthur, & J. Baker (Eds.), Proceedings of the Second Research Workshop on Microplastic Marine Debris. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/publications-files/TM_NOS-ORR_39.pdf

Cole, M., Lindeque, P., Halsband, C., & Galloway, T. S. (2011). Microplastics as contaminants in the marine environment: A review. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 62(12), 2588-97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.09.025

Derraik, J. G. (2002). The pollution of the marine environment by plastic debris: A review. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 44(9), 842–852. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0025-326X(02)00220-5

Deudero, S., & Alomar, C. (2015). Mediterranean marine biodiversity under threat: reviewing influence of marine litter on species. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 98(1–2), 58–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.07.012

Dodson, G. Z., Shotorban, A. K., Hatcher, P. G., Waggoner, D. C., Ghosal, S., & Noffke, N. (2020). Microplastic fragment and fiber contamination of beach sediments from selected sites in Virginia and North Carolina, USA. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 151, 110869. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2019.110869

Ho, N. H. E., & Not, C. (2019). Selective accumulation of plastic debris at the breaking wave area of coastal waters. Environmental Pollution, 245, 702–710. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2018.11.041

Jang, Y. C., Hong, S., Lee, J., Lee, M. J., & Shim, W. J. (2014). Estimation of lost tourism revenue in Geoje Island from the 2011 marine debris pollution event in South Korea. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 81(1), 49–54. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.02.021

Jiang, J. Q. (2018). Occurrence of microplastics and its pollution in the environment: A review. Sustainable Production and Consumption, 13, 16–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2017.11.003

Martin, J., Lusher, A., Thompson, R. C., & Morley, A. (2017). The deposition and accumulation of microplastics in marine sediments and bottom water from the Irish Continental Shelf. Scientific Reports, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-11079-2

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program. (2014). Occurrence and health effects of anthropogenic debris ingested by marine organisms. https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/occurrence-and-health-effects-anthropogenic-debris-ingested-marine-organisms

Parker, L. (2019, June 7). The world's plastic pollution crisis explained. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/plastic-pollution/

Schnurr, R. E. J., Alboiu, V., Chaudhary, M., Corbett, R. A., Quanz, M. E., Sankar, K., Srain, H. S.. Thavarajah, V., Xanthos, D., & Walker, T. R. (2018). Reducing marine pollution from single-use plastics (SUPs): A review. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 137, 157–171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.10.001

Thompson, R. C. (2015). Microplastics in the marine environment: Sources, consequences and solutions. In M. Bergmann, L. Gutow, & M. Klages (Eds.), Marine Anthropogenic Litter. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16510-3_7

Xanthos, D., & Walker, T. R. (2017). International policies to reduce plastic marine pollution from single-use plastics (plastic bags and microbeads): A review. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 118(1-2), 17–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.02.048






Original Articles