Scleractinian corals, the main framework builders of coral reefs, are in serious global decline, although there remains significant uncertainty as to the consequences for individual species and particular regions. We assessed coral species richness and ranked relative abundance across 3075 depth-stratified survey sites, each < 0.5 ha in area, using a standardized rapid assessment method, in 31 Indo-West Pacific (IWP) coral ecoregions (ERs), from 1994 to 2016. The ecoregions cover a significant proportion of the ranges of most IWP reef coral species, including main centres of diversity, providing a baseline (albeit a shifted one) of species abundance over a large area of highly endangered reef systems, facilitating study of future change. In all, 672 species were recorded. The richest sites and ERs were all located in the Coral Triangle. Local (site) richness peaked at 224 species in Halmahera ER (IWP mean 71 species Standard Deviation 38 species). Nineteen species occurred in more than half of all sites, all but one occurring in more than 90% of ERs. Representing 13 genera, these widespread species exhibit a broad range of life histories, indicating that no particular strategy, or taxonomic affiliation, conferred particular ecological advantage. For most other species, occurrence and abundance varied markedly among different ERs, some having pronounced “centres of abundance”. Conversely, another 40 species, also with widely divergent life histories, were very rare, occurring in five or fewer sites, 14 species of which are ranked as “Vulnerable” or “Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Others may also qualify in these Threatened categories under criteria of small geographic range and population fragmentation, the utility of which is briefly assessed.
Marine debris such as plastic fragments and fishing gears are accumulating in the ocean at alarming rates. This study assesses the incidence of debris in the gastrointestinal tracts of seabirds feeding at different depths and found stranded along the Brazilian coast in the period 2010–2013. More than half (55%) of the species analysed, corresponding to 16% of the total number of individuals, presented plastic particles in their gastrointestinal tracts. The incidence of debris was higher in birds feeding predominantly at intermediate (3–6 m) and deep (20–100 m) waters than those feeding at surface (< 2 m). These results suggest that studying the presence of debris in organisms mainly feeding at the ocean surface provides a limited view about the risks that this form of pollution has on marine life and highlight the ubiquitous and three-dimensional distribution of plastic in the oceans.
Seabirds can interact with marine litter, mainly by entanglement or ingestion. The ingestion of plastics can lead to starvation or physical damage to the digestive tract. For chicks, it could additionally lead to reduced growth, affecting survival and fledging. This study quantified the ingestion of plastics by seabird chicks via an opportunistic sampling strategy. When ringing is carried out at colonies, birds may spontaneously regurgitate their stomach contents due to the stress or as a defence mechanism. Regurgitates were collected from nestlings of three different species: Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla, n = 38), Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis, n = 14) and Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo, n = 28). Plastic was present in all species, with the highest frequency of occurrence (FO) in Northern Fulmar chicks (28.6%), followed by Black-legged Kittiwakes (7.9%) and Great Cormorants (7.1%). The observed load of plastics on chicks, which have not yet left the nest, highlights the pervasive nature of plastic pollution.
Argentina is currently undergoing an intensive development of coastal-oriented tourism due to the temperate climate and coastal sceneries of the Southwestern Atlantic and particularly its wide ocean-open sandy beaches, which may turn into an important contributor of marine debris to the beaches. This study was designed to assess at four spatial scales (i) the variation of the abundance and mass of marine debris and (ii) the composition and sources of these items in sandy-tourist beaches of coastal zones of the province of Buenos Aires, in northern Argentina. The abundance and mass of marine debris shifted between sampling localities (separated by ~ 1.5 × 105 m) and beaches (~ 3 × 104 m). Debris was primarily from recreational and fishing activities and over 20 mm in size. Tackling the complications associated with marine debris in northern Argentina may include intensive educational and advertising campaigns oriented chiefly to beach users and fisherman.
This study estimated the total loads of plastic litter (macro-meso- and micro-plastics) in sediments from a wide stretch of marine and coastal environment of Tyrrhenian Sea. The prevailing category of debris was microplastic. The results obtained, in terms of average amount of microplastic per kilogram of dry sediment, are in agreement with data reported by various Authors internationally. The study area resulted to be uniform for plastic items levels. Particularly evident was the influence of a flood, occurred in November 2012 in Talamone, on sediments collected at the harbour of this locality: in this area, a difference in levels and quality of plastic debris, attributable to periods before and after the flood, was observed in sediments. In addition to focusing on the effect of this phenomenon, this study gives an important overview, for what concerns the presence of plastic litter, of a significant naturalistic area.
Microplastics (MPs) are observed to be present on the seafloor ranging from coastal areas to deep seas. Because bioturbation alters the distribution of natural particles on inhabited soft bottoms, a mesocosm experiment with common benthic invertebrates was conducted to study their effect on the distribution of secondary MPs (different-sized pieces of fishing line < 1 mm). During the study period of three weeks, the benthic community increased MP concentration in the depth of 1.7–5.1 cm in the sediment. The experiment revealed a clear vertical gradient in MP distribution with their abundance being highest in the uppermost parts of the sediment and decreasing with depth. The Baltic clam Macoma balthica was the only study animal that ingested MPs. This study highlights the need to further examine the vertical distribution of MPs in natural sediments to reliably assess their abundance on the seafloor as well as their potential impacts on benthic communities.
Pollution from anthropogenic marine debris (AMD) is currently the most widely distributed and lasting anthropic impact in the marine environment, affecting hundreds of species, including all sea turtles. In this study, the patterns of AMD distribution along the gastrointestinal tract (GT) and their relationship with obstructions and faecalomas in 62 green turtles (Chelonia mydas) that died during rehabilitation in southern Brazil were determined. The GT was split in seven sections, corresponding to the natural organs and intestinal areas morphologically and physiologically distinct. Mean mass (4.24 g) and area (146.74 cm2) of AMD in the stomach were higher than in other sections. The anterior portion of the rectum had the highest number of obstructions, followed by the stomach. AMD was associated with the obstructions, with positive correlation between faecalomas and AMD masses. Organs and subdivisions showed marked differences in susceptibility to obstructions caused by AMD, which deserves attention in clinical interventions.
In this study marine litter (ML) surveys were conducted in 8 beaches along the Bulgarian Black Sea coastline within 4 seasons for 2015–2016. The monitoring applied OSPAR guideline, classifying ML in eight categories and 167 types. The results exhibited predominance of artificial polymer materials - 84.3%. ML densities ranged from 0.0587 ± 0.005 to 0.1343 ± 0.008 n/m2, highest on the urban beaches. The seasonal dynamics of most top 10 ML showed highest quantities in summer than the other seasons, as the differences are of high statistical significance (0.001 ≤ P ≤ 0.05). Top 1 ML item for most of the beaches was cigarette butts and filters reaching 1008 ± 10.58 nos. in summer and from 19 ± 3.41 to 89 ± 7.81 nos. during the rest of the seasons (P < 0.001). For the pronounced seasonality contributed the recreational activities, increased tourist flow and the wild camping. The investigation will enrich data scarcity for Descriptor 10 “Marine litter”.
Being regarded as a problem of global dimensions, marine litter has been a growing concern that affects human beings, wildlife and the economic health of coastal communities to varying degrees. Due to its involvement with human behavior, marine littering has been regarded as a cultural matter encompassing macro and micro level aspects. At the micro or individual level, behavior and behavioral motivation of an individual are driven by perception of that person while at the macro or societal level, aspects including policies and legislations influence behavior. This paper investigates marine littering through the macro-micro level lenses in order to analyze and recommend how anti-littering behavior can be improved and sustained. Using Coleman's model of micro-macro relations, research questions are formulated and investigated through a social survey. Results showed important differences in perceptions among participating groups and to address key issues, potential actions are proposed along with a framework to sustain anti-littering behavior.
Plastic production has increased dramatically worldwide over the last 60 years and it is nowadays recognized as a serious threat to the marine environment. Plastic pollution is ubiquitous, but quantitative estimates on the global abundance and weight of floating plastics are still limited, particularly for the Southern Hemisphere and the more remote regions. Some large-scale convergence zones of plastic debris have been identified, but there is the urgency to standardize common methodologies to measure and quantify plastics in seawater and sediments. Investigations on temporal trends, geographical distribution and global cycle of plastics have management implications when defining the origin, possible drifting tracks and ecological consequences of such pollution. An elevated number of marine species is known to be affected by plastic contamination, and a more integrated ecological risk assessment of these materials has become a research priority. Beside entanglement and ingestion of macro debris by large vertebrates, microplastics are accumulated by planktonic and invertebrate organisms, being transferred along food chains. Negative consequences include loss of nutritional value of diet, physical damages, exposure to pathogens and transport of alien species. In addition, plastics contain chemical additives and efficiently adsorb several environmental contaminants, thus representing a potential source of exposure to such compounds after ingestion. Complex ecotoxicological effects are increasingly reported, but the fate and impact of microplastics in the marine environment are still far to be fully clarified.