The Impact of Microplastic Pollution on the Food Web



While plastic pollution is a major, long-term global environmental issue, there is growing concern around tiny particles of plastics called microplastics (<5mm) that enter marine ecosystems. As well as affecting local waterways, microplastics can be transported long distances to remote and thought to be pristine polar regions due to the ocean currents. They can enter food webs at various points through accidental ingestion by animals. Furthermore, these plastics can attract and accumulate chemical pollution on their surfaces, which can further affect the health of animals that have ingested them.

The ACE voyage, in association with current Australian Antarctic science projects, offers a timely opportunity to evaluate the impact of microplastics on the Southern Ocean through a unique circumpolar survey of the ocean and elements of the food web (plankton including krill, fish, and seals, penguins and albatross). The project will communicate the results of this cutting edge-science through traditional and creative channels including generating widespread community awareness of the hazards of microplastics through a children’s book and other means.

Principal Investigator (PI)

Dana Bergstrom

Australian Antarctic Division


The Impact of Microplastic Pollution on the Southern Ocean Food Web

Principal institution / country

  • Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre (ACE-CRC), Tasmania (Australia)
  • Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania (Australia )
  • University of Pretoria (South Africa)
  • University of Cape Town (South Africa )
  • International Pellet Watch (Japan)
  • Griffith University, Queensland (Australia)
  • Award winning writers and illustrators, Alison Lester & Coral Tulloch (Australia) Pure Antarctic