Barnacles as potential bioindicator of microplastic pollution in Hong Kong

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

11 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Article number111081
Journal / PublicationMarine Pollution Bulletin
Online published27 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


Microplastic (MP) pollution is an emerging problem in the marine environment and the assessment of the presence and abundance of microplastics in wild organisms is essential for risk assessment. The occurrence of microplastics in four species of barnacles at 30 sites in Hong Kong waters was investigated. The median number of microplastics ranged between 0 and 8.63 particles g−1 wet weight, or 0 and 1.9 particles individual−1, with fibers being the most abundant type of microplastics. The chemical composition of 152 pieces out of 606 potential microplastics was analyzed using micro-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (μ-FTIR). Fifty-two of them were synthetic polymers, 95 natural cotton fibers and five unknowns. Eight types of polymer were identified with cellophane being the most abundant (58%). Correlation analysis was conducted between the abundance of MPs in sediments obtained in our previous study and that in individual barnacle species in this study, and a positive correlation was established for the barnacle Amphibalanus amphitrite, highlighting the potential of using this species as a bioindicator of microplastics.

Research Area(s)

  • Barnacles, Bioindicator, Hong Kong, Microplastics