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 M. Alikunhi, Abdulaziz M. AlSuwailem, Anders Røstad, Darren J. Coker, Michael L. Berumen, Carlos M. Duarte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 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 - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Commercial fish
  • FT-IR
  • Grouper
  • Mesopelagic fish
  • Polymer
  • Stomach content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Aquatic Science
  • Oceanography


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