A comparison of plastic and plankton in the north Pacific central gyre

Mar Pollut Bull. 2001 Dec;42(12):1297-300. doi: 10.1016/s0025-326x(01)00114-x.


The potential for ingestion of plastic particles by open ocean filter feeders was assessed by measuring the relative abundance and mass of neustonic plastic and zooplankton in surface waters under the central atmospheric high-pressure cells of the North Pacific Ocean. Neuston samples were collected at 11 random sites, using a manta trawl lined with 333 u mesh. The abundance and mass of neustonic plastic was the largest recorded anywhere in the Pacific Ocean at 334271 pieces km2 and 5114 g km2, respectively. Plankton abundance was approximately five times higher than that of plastic, but the mass of plastic was approximately six times that of plankton. The most frequently sampled types of identifiable plastic were thin films, polypropylene/monofilament line and unidentified plastic, most of which were miscellaneous fragments. Cumulatively, these three types accounted for 99% of the total number of plastic pieces.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Plastics / analysis*
  • Seawater / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*
  • Zooplankton / growth & development*
  • Zooplankton / isolation & purification


  • Plastics
  • Water Pollutants