Floating Microplastics in the Central and Western Mediterranean Sea

Estimated 1 455 tonnes of plastic floating in the Mediterranean

A rough total of 1 455 tonnes of floating plastic is present across the Mediterranean, estimates a new study. Researchers gathered floating plastics using trawl nets and found that microplastics with a surface area of around 1 square milimetre (mm²) were the most abundant size of plastic particles found.


  • In a large-scale study of the Mediterranean Sea, plastic was found in all samples.
  • 579.3 g dw km−2 and 147,500 items km−2 were the average concentrations.
  • The most common particle size in the samples was 1 mm².
  • The proportion of plastic in all the marine debris sampled was 96.87%.
  • The general estimate obtained was a total value of 1455 tons dw of floating plastic for the entire Mediterranean region.


Floating plastic debris in the Central and Western Mediterranean Sea, Marine Environmental Research, Volume 120, Pages 136–144, September 2016.

In two sea voyages throughout the Mediterranean (2011 and 2013) that repeated the historical travels of Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria (1847–1915), 71 samples of floating plastic debris were obtained with a Manta trawl. Floating plastic was observed in all the sampled sites, with an average weight concentration of 579.3 g dw km−2 (maximum value of 9298.2 g dw km−2) and an average particle concentration of 147,500 items km−2 (the maximum concentration was 1,164,403 items km−2). The plastic size distribution showed microplastics (<5 mm) in all the samples. The most abundant particles had a surface area of approximately 1 mm2 (the mesh size was 333 μm). The general estimate obtained was a total value of 1455 tons dw of floating plastic in the entire Mediterranean region, with various potential spatial accumulation areas.

2 thoughts on “Floating Microplastics in the Central and Western Mediterranean Sea”

  1. Hello, Dom! I greatly appreciate your articles and posts. Yes. This is very worrisome, to the point where I will no longer use sea salt for health. They say nano plastic particles are in it. Better to use Real Salt or Himalayan than sea… So very sad, I REALLY have difficulty thinking about it. And, all of the poor sea creatures… #awful Thanks for all you do to raise awareness. Much Love, Fondly, Robin

    1. Thank you for your kind words Robin.
      I don’t deserve much credit since I only republish abstract of studies…
      But yes, trying to raise awareness because much of what is happening is very worrying.

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