Spatial trends and drivers of marine debris accumulation on shorelines in South Eleuthera, The Bahamas using citizen science
This study measured spatial distribution of marine debris stranded on beaches in South Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Citizen science, fetch modeling, relative exposure index and predictive mapping were used to determine marine debris source and abundance. Citizen scientists quantified debris type and abundance on 16 beaches within three coastal exposures (The Atlantic Ocean, Great Bahama Bank and The Exuma Sound) in South Eleuthera. Marine debris, (~2.5 cm or larger) on each beach was monitored twice between March–May and September–November 2013 at the same locations using GPS. Approximately, 93% of all debris items were plastic with plastic fragments (≤2.5 cm) being the most common. There were spatial differences (p ≤ 0.0001) in plastic debris abundance between coastal exposures. Atlantic Ocean beaches had larger quantities of plastic debris by weight and by meter (m) of shoreline. Stranded plastic may be associated with Atlantic Ocean currents associated with leakage from the North Atlantic sub-tropical gyre.