Floating litter monitoring in the Georgian section of the Black Sea: first results

  • September 26, 2019

Iv.Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU), in accordance with the planned activities within the project “Research studies on contaminants ( MSFD Descriptors 8 and 10) in the Georgian section of the Black Sea” ( ‘EMBLAS Plus”) carried out the first field survey on collecting and analysis of beach/riverine/marine floating litter in the Georgian section of the Black Sea held  from the end of August to 10-th of  September, 2019.

The beach litter survey was carried out on 5 sites, in particular:  Ureki, Kobulet, Sarpi, Tskaltsminda and Maltakva beach areas.

This monitoring session coincided with the summer season. The local municipal bodies held the beach cleaning activities every morning at popular visited beaches. To this kind of beaches belong Sarpi and Ureki. The other monitoring sites ( Tskaltsminda, Maltakva, Kobuleti northen peripheries) are not exposed to daily cleaning, and, hence, the amount and categories of litter differs for two different managed beaches.

Ureki  is the most populated among the studded sites, therefore, daily impact of litter is more then on other sites. The lowest loading of litter is revealed on Sarpi beach. This site is characterized with relatively high concentration of metal items, and, respectively, lowest percentage of plastic.

The main part of plastic litter composed by drinking bottles, caps/lids and different size of plastic pieces (see the figure below). It should be noted that a large amount of medical/pharmaceutical waste is observed, in particular, the number of items of this category varies from 1 to 36 (up to 7% of total plastic). 

For registration and categorization of floating litter JRC Floating Litter Monitoring Application was used giving the possibility to record coordinates and time in situ. In additional, application allows register floating items named “non litter”, e.g. wood, leaves, feathers etc., which is occurred on the river surface and compose important part of material leached on the beaches from the sea. All protocols with data obtained during the session  were sent to RIMMEL database.

The riverine  observations were carried out on four rivers, as follow: Chorokhi, Natanebi, Rioni and Supsa.

The greatest amount of non-litter items – 241 was  observed on Riv. Supsa. It should be, also, noted the relatively high quantity of cover/packaging  on the Riv. Supsa. The Riv.Chorokhi  carry the lowest amount of litter in pointed period.   

In conclusion, it should be noted, that, in the average 200 – 400 unit of plastic per hour, can be transported by 4 essential rivers into the sea area. Most commonly plastic bottles and bags are occurred, paper and rubber items are rare.

Concerning the “Non Litter” units (wood, leaves, feathers), in all examined rivers, its amount, exceeds amount of plastic litter, varies in large scale, and may reach in total 1000-1200 unit per hour for all examined rivers.

The marine surface floating litter survey was conducted on the 3 sea monitoring transects, covered Batumi, Kobuleti and Poti sea areas, 200 – 350 m from the seashore line (see the image below). 

On transect Batumi – Chakvi  and Kobuleti – Tsikhisdziri it was observed practically clean sea surface, without litter and vegetable debris. That could be explained with weather condition, as observation was coincided after storming of the sea.

On transect Poti – Kulevi was observed large amount of plastic bottles and polystyrene pieces. This waste, mainly, is loaded into the sea area from container ships, standing on long-distance raid, 400 – 500m from coastline.

Realizing the Black Sea Synergy conceptual approach,  TSU is closely cooperating with EU funded EMODnet and SeaDataNet projects  in this direction, as well, as with  the proposal “Innovative techniques and methods for reducing the marine litter in the Black sea coastal areas – RedMarLitter” (BSB 552)  funded within Joint Operational Programme for the Black Sea Basin 2014-2020, where  TSU is taking part as a partner. One of the main activities in RedMarLitter is to create the common Database on ML, what is in synergy with the goals of EMBLAS Plus goals. It should be mentioned, that BS Waste database platform is under realization within the project “RedMarLitter”.

Following the recommendations of the training course dedicated to micro-plastic separation and identification methods organized by the Project EMBLAS Plus in February 2019, the micro-plastic litter items were separated from beach material  obtained during the above mentioned expedition. For investigation was selected Ureki beach, as mostly populated and visited in summer season. Size of the items ranges within 0.025 -2 cm.

Approximately 2 kg of the superficial averaged test sample taken from 2500m2 of the sampling site, contains about 1.5 g of micro-plastic items ( 60 pieces). The obtained samples will be delivered to the lab for further processing and identification of plastic particles using IR-spectroscopy method. The research in this regard will be undertaken during the coming expedition in October, 2019.