Research ArticleMarine Ecology

From the surface to the seafloor: How giant larvaceans transport microplastics into the deep sea

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Science Advances  16 Aug 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 8, e1700715
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700715
  • Fig. 1 Experiments were conducted on board R/V Western Flyer using DeepPIV’s particle injector deployed from ROV Doc Ricketts.

    We conducted in situ feeding studies of giant larvaceans using a modified dye injector pump developed with the DeepPIV hardware (20). A peristaltic injector pump emptied a bag filled with microplastic particles and dispensed particle-rich fluid through the tubing nearby an animal.

  • Fig. 2 During feeding experiments, microplastics were observed inside and attached to the inner house and inside the gut of giant larvaceans.

    Microplastic particles in varying size ranges (from 10 to 600 μm) are represented by different colors (for example, red, yellow, green, and orange; see table S1 for specific particle sizes). Image corresponds to B. stygius specimen D5 from dive D870 (table S1). Scale bar, 2 cm. ih, inner house; bt, buccal tube; mp, microplastics; g, gut; tr, trunk; m, mouth; t, tail; r, ramp of inner house.

  • Fig. 3 Collected giant larvaceans were maintained in a cold room, and after 12 hours, animals and fecal pellets were imaged under a microscope to determine microplastic particle size.

    (A) After the 12-hour period, the guts of intact individuals were completely evacuated. (B) Microplastic particles were incorporated into the fecal pellets, where each color (for example, red, orange, yellow, and green) corresponds to specific size classes of particles shown at lower (B) and higher (C) magnifications. (See table S1 for specific particle sizes). The fecal pellet in (C) can be seen in the upper left corner of (B). Images shown here correspond to B. stygius specimen D5 from dive D870 (table S1).

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/3/8/e1700715/DC1

    fig. S1. In situ feeding experiments with giant larvaceans involved quantifying filtration rates, particle injections, feeding observations, collection of animals, and imaging of animal guts and subsequent fecal pellets.

    table S1. Summary of in situ feeding results of B. stygius individuals collected during dive D870 on R/V Western Flyer.

    table S2. Summary of fecal pellet sinking results for giant larvaceans collected with ROV Ventana.

    movie S1. In situ feeding experiment using microplastic particles with a giant larvacean B. stygius (individual D5) on dive D870 in June 2016.

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • fig. S1. In situ feeding experiments with giant larvaceans involved quantifying filtration rates, particle injections, feeding observations, collection of animals, and imaging of animal guts and subsequent fecal pellets.
    • table S1. Summary of in situ feeding results of B. stygius individuals collected during dive D870 on R/V Western Flyer.
    • table S2. Summary of fecal pellet sinking results for giant larvaceans collected with ROV Ventana.
    • Legend for movie S1

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    Other Supplementary Material for this manuscript includes the following:

    • movie S1 (.mov format). In situ feeding experiment using microplastic particles with a giant larvacean B. stygius (individual D5) on dive D870 in June 2016.

    Files in this Data Supplement:

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