Ingestion of plastic by fish: A comparison of Thames Estuary and Firth of Clyde populations

Mar Pollut Bull. 2018 Dec;137:12-23. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.09.054. Epub 2018 Oct 4.


This study compared plastic ingestion between pelagic and benthic fish populations from two UK watersheds: the Thames Estuary and the Firth of Clyde. The alimentary canals of 876 individuals were examined. Of twenty-one estuarine species investigated, fourteen ingested plastics, including predator (fish) and prey (shrimp) species. Overall, 32% of organisms ingested plastic, mostly fibres (88% of total plastics). More flatfish (38%) ingested plastics than other benthic species (17%). In the Thames, more plastic was ingested by pelagic species (average number of plastic pieces ingested: 3.2) and flatfish (average number of plastic pieces ingested: 2.9) than by shrimp (average number of plastic pieces ingested: 1). More fish from the Clyde ingested plastic than similar Thames species (39% compared to 28% respectively); however, the average amount of plastic ingested did not differ between the sites.

Keywords: FTIR spectroscopy; Firth of Clyde fish populations; Microfibres; Microplastics; Thames Estuary.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eating
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Estuaries
  • Fishes / classification
  • Fishes / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / chemistry
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Plastics / analysis
  • Plastics / metabolism*
  • Seawater / chemistry
  • United Kingdom
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism


  • Plastics
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical