The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), aside from its own data, also hosts and manages marine data collections on behalf of the University of Western Australia (UWA). A subset of the IMAS collections can be found on the Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN) Portal, and recently discoverable is the PhD data of Julia Reisser, which characterises and estimates the concentration of marine plastics in waters around Australia.
Between 2011 and 2012, surface net tows were undertaken on seven transit voyages, at 57 locations, aboard Australian vessels (RV Southern Surveyor, RV Solander, and an Austral Fisheries vessel). The collected material was counted, measured (length), photographed and classified into type (hard, soft, line, expanded polystyrene, pellet), and colour. The researcher recorded 839 pieces of plastic, ranging in length from 0.4 to 82.6mm, with the majority appearing to have resulted from the breakdown of larger items.
An estimate of sea surface plastic concentrations (Cs, pieces per km-2) can be visualised on the Portal at Step 2, and can be subsetted by both geographic location and vessel. Estimated concentrations for each net tow ranged from 0 to 48895.6 pieces per km. The high prevalence of microplastics (fragments smaller than 5mm) is consistent with other regions of the world’s oceans (Reisser J, Shaw J, Wilcox C, Hardesty BD, Proietti M, Thums M, et al. (2013) Marine Plastic Pollution in Waters around Australia: Characteristics, Concentrations, and Pathways. PLoS ONE 8(11): e80466. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0080466).
The estimate of sea surface plastic concentration data in conjunction with salinity, water temperature, turbidity and fluorescence can be downloaded from Step 3 of the AODN Portal.
Additional data, to that presented in the PLoS ONE article, has been included in this data collection, and was collected from nine locations sampled aboard RV Solander in September 2013, from the North-west marine region.
Both datasets were submitted to Figshare, and have been assigned DOIs:
North-west Marine Region: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.818765.v4
Also available in Figshare are Scanning Electron Microsope (SEM) images of the Marine Plastics collected https://figshare.com/articles/Data_from/1043987