Marine litter impacts oceans and affects marine organisms, representing a potential threat for natural stocks of pelagic fish species located at the first levels of the marine food webs. In 2013–2014, on a seasonal basis, marine litter and microplastics in stomach contents from Sardinia pilchardus and Engraulis encrasicolus were evaluated. Selected species are plankitivores of great ecological and commercial importance in the Adriatic Sea. Collected data were correlated to possible factors able to affect ingested levels as well as species, season of sampling, biometry and sex of animals. Almost all tested samples (80 organisms for each species) contained marine litter (over 90% of samples from both species) and also microplastics; while any meso- or macroplastics were recorded. On average, recorded items were as follows: 4.63 (S. plichardus) and 1.25 (E. encrasicolus) per individual. Sardines evidenced a higher number ofmicroplastics characterised by a smaller size than those recorded in anchovies. For sardines, sex, Gastro Somatic Index and sampling season showed negligible effects on the number of ingested litter; conversely, anchovies showed differences related with both sex of animals and dominant colour of ingested materials with prevalence for black and blue colours.
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