Message in a bottle – The story of floating plastic in the eastern Mediterranean sea

Galia Pasternak, Dov Zviely, Asaf Ariel, Ehud Spanier, Christine A. Ribic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Mediterranean Sea is a closed basin with limited water exchange through the Strait of Gibraltar, and sites along its shores show the greatest densities of marine debris in the world. Plastic bottles, which are a growing concern due to high consumption of soft drinks and bottled water, constitute most of the floating marine debris. In this paper we present the transport mechanisms of floating marine debris to and from the Israeli coast using an experimental offshore release and recovery of plastic bottles, with the participation of citizens. Many bottles released near the beach in the south part of Israel, returned to the beach at a short distance and time from the release point. Some release locations had no bottle returns. Ten bottles, released from three locations, were recovered many dozens to hundreds of kilometers from the release point. Since most of the westward water flow in the eastern Mediterranean is subsurface, it was not surprising to find our floating debris only in the east. That makes the Levant basin in the eastern Mediterranean a collection area for floating debris.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-77
Number of pages11
JournalWaste Management
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by EcoOcean, an Israeli non-governmental organization, and partially supported by a Sir Mauriceand Lady Irene Hatter Research Grant for Maritime Studies to the first author. At the time of publication, the data have not been published by the funding agency. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. The research team would like to thank everyone who reported bottle finding to us.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Environmental protection
  • Floating marine debris
  • Marine pollution
  • Plastic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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