EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Plastic waste input from Guadalquivir River to the ocean

Rocio Quintana Sepúlveda1, Daniel González Fernández1, Andrés Cózar Cabañas1, Cesar Vilas Fernández2, Enrique González Ortegón3, Francisco Baldo Martínez4, and Carmen Morales Caselles1
Rocio Quintana Sepúlveda et al.
  • 1University of Cádiz, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y Ambientales, Department of Biology, Puerto Real, Spain (
  • 2Centro El Toruño, IFAPA, Puerto de Santa María, Spain
  • 3Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía, CSIC, Puerto Real, Spain
  • 4Centro Oceanográfico de Cádiz, IEO, Cádiz, Spain

Around 8 million tons of plastic waste are leaked from land into the ocean annually. One of the main pathways of plastic input into the ocean is rivers, but there is no comprehensive information about the amount and nature of litter transported. This study presents results of a monthly monitoring over a two years period in the estuary of Guadalquivir River, southern Spain. The samples, which consisted of passive hauls, were taken from a traditional glass eel fishing boat anchored with three nets working in parallel. The nets, with a mesh of 1 mm and an opening of 2.5 (width) × 3 (depth) metres, filtered around 60,000 m3 per sample. Our methodological approach allowed characterization of virtually all plastic sizes in river waters, comprising micro-, meso- and macroplastics. Plastic items were dominated by pieces of film (70% in number). Microplastics in the size interval from 2.5 to 4.0 mm represented half of the total identified items. Small fragments in Guadalquivir River comprised most of the plastic mass input to the sea. Our results support the relevance of fragmentation processes inland, and the role of rivers and estuaries as sources of microplastics to the ocean.

How to cite: Quintana Sepúlveda, R., González Fernández, D., Cózar Cabañas, A., Vilas Fernández, C., González Ortegón, E., Baldo Martínez, F., and Morales Caselles, C.: Plastic waste input from Guadalquivir River to the ocean , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19268,, 2020


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