University Of Tasmania
Lavers etal - Beach plastic detection (in press).pdf (926.16 kB)
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Factors influencing the detection of beach plastic debris

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 20:07 authored by Jennifer Lavers, Oppel, S, Bond, AL
Marine plastic pollution is a global problem with considerable ecological and economic consequences. Quantifying the amount of plastic in the ocean has been facilitated by surveys of accumulated plastic on beaches, but existing monitoring programmes assume the proportion of plastic detected during beach surveys is constant across time and space. Here we use a multi-observer experiment to assess what proportion of small plastic fragments is missed routinely by observers, and what factors influence the detection probability of different types of plastic. Detection probability across the various types of plastic ranged from 60 - 100%, and varied considerably by observer, observer experience, and biological material present on the beach that could be confused with plastic. Blue fragments had the highest detection probability, while white fragments had the lowest. We recommend long-term monitoring programmes adopt survey designs accounting for imperfect detection or at least assess the proportion of fragments missed by observers.


Publication title

Marine Environmental Research








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Elsevier Sci Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox5 1Gb

Rights statement

© 2016 Elsevier

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Marine biodiversity