Microplastic in the gastrointestinal tract of fishes along the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coast

Fadiyah M. Baalkhuyur, El-Jawaher A. Bin Dohaish, Manal E.A. Elhalwagy, Nabeel Mannalamkunnath Alikunhi, Abdulaziz M. Al-Suwailem, Anders Røstad, Darren James Coker, Michael L. Berumen, Carlos M. Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


This study assesses the presence of microplastic litter in the contents of the gastrointestinal tract of 26 commercial and non-commercial fish species from four difference habitats sampled along the Saudi Arabian coast of the Red Sea. A total of 178 individual were examined for microplastics. In total, 26 microplastic fragments were found. Of these, 16 being films (61.5%) and 10 being fishing thread (38.5%). FTIR analysis revealed that the most abundant polymers were polypropylene and polyethylene. The grouper (Epinephelus spp.) sampled at Jazan registered the highest number of ingested microplastics. This fish species is benthic and feeds on benthic invertebrates. Although differences in the abundance of microplastic ingestion among species were not statistically significant, a significant change was observed when the level of ingestion of microplastics particles was compared among the habitats. The higher abundance of microplastics particles may be related to the habitats of fish and the presence of microplastics debris near the seabed. The results of this study represent a first evidence that microplastic pollution represents an emerging threat to Red Sea fishes, their food web and human consumers.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-415
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
StatePublished - Apr 24 2018

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-02-19
Acknowledgements: This work was funded by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) through baseline funding to C.M. Duarte. We thank Elisa Marti and Cecilia Martin for all their help and support, and Omar El Tall for his assistance with FTIR and technical support.


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