Sunscreens and other personal care products use organic ultraviolet (UV) filters such as oxybenzone, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, Padimate-O, and octyl methoxycinnamate to prevent damage to human skin. While these compounds are effective at preventing sunburn, they have a demonstrated negative effect on cells and tissues across taxonomic levels. These compounds have a relatively short half-life in seawater but are continuously re-introduced via recreational activities and wastewater discharge, making them environmentally persistent. Because of this, testing seawater samples for the presence of these compounds may not be reflective of their abundance in the environment. Bioaccumulation of organic ultraviolet filters in a high-trophic level predator may provide greater insight to the presence and persistence of these compounds. To address this, the present study collected seawater samples as well as muscle and stomach content samples from the invasive Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the nearshore waters of Grenada, West Indies to examine the use of lionfish as potential bioindicator species. Seawater and lionfish samples were collected at four sites that are near point sources of wastewater discharge and that receive a high number of visitors each year. Samples were tested for the presence and concentrations of oxybenzone, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC), Padimate-O, and octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Oxybenzone residues were detected in 60% of seawater samples and OMC residues were detected in 20% of seawater samples. Seawater samples collected in the surface waters near Grenada’s main beach had oxybenzone concentrations more than ten times higher than seawater samples collected in less frequently visited areas and the highest prevalence of UV filters in lionfish. Residues of oxybenzone were detected in 35% of lionfish muscle and 4-MBC residues were detected in 12% of lionfish muscle. Padimate-O was not detected in either seawater or lionfish samples. No organic UV filters were detected in lionfish stomach contents. Histopathologic examination of lionfish demonstrated no significant findings attributed to UV filter toxicity. These findings report UV filter residue levels for the first time in inshore waters in Grenada. Results indicate that lionfish may be bioaccumulating residues and may be a useful sentinel model for monitoring organic ultraviolet filters in the Caribbean Sea.
Pollution and Marine Debris
Global concern about floating marine debris and its fundamental role in shaping coastal biodiversity is growing, yet there is very little knowledge about debris-associated rafting communities in many areas of the world's oceans. In the present study, we examined the encrusting assemblage on different types of stranded debris (wood, plastic, glass, and metal cans) along the Iranian coast of the Persian Gulf. In total, 21 taxa were identified on 132 items. The average frequency of occurrence (±SE) across all sites and stranded debris showed that the barnacle Amphibalanus amphitrite(68.9 ± 1.1%), the oyster Saccostrea cucullata (40.9 ± 0.7%), the polychaete Spirobranchus kraussii (27.3 ± 0.5%), green algae (22 ± 0.5%) and the coral Paracyathus stokesii(14.4 ± 0.7%) occurred most frequently. Relative substratum coverage was highest for A. amphitrite(44.3 ± 2.7%), followed by green algae (14.4 ± 1.5%), Spirobranchus kraussii (9.3 ± 1.3%), Saccostrea cucullata(7.6 ± 1.3%) and the barnacle Microeuraphia permitini(5.8 ± 0.9%). Despite the significant difference in coverage of rafting species on plastic items among different sites, there was no clear and consistent trend of species richness and coverage from the eastern (Strait of Hormuz) to the western part of the Persian Gulf. Some rafting species (bryozoans and likely barnacles) were found to be non-indigenous species in the area. As floating marine debris can transport non-indigenous species and increase the risk of bio-invasions to this already naturally- and anthropogenically-stressed water body, comprehensive monitoring efforts should be made to elucidate the vectors and arrival of new invasive species to the region.
Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material disposed into the marine and/or coastal environment. The impact of these pieces of debris, especially plastic, have been reported around the world as causing environmental degradation, disease dissemination, transport of chemical toxins and public health issues. The extent of the effects of marine debris and beach cleanliness can be assessed using indexes such as General Index (GI), Clean-Coast Index (CCI) and Pellet Pollution Index (PPI). Thus, this study analyzed all debris collected from 25 beaches located in 11 counties in the State of Santa Catarina, Brazil. The quali-quantitative analysis was used for individual beaches according to the above indexes. Although plastic was the overall most common debris category, granulated polystyrene was the most common debris in nine of the beaches in this study. From the three indexes employed in this study, GI appears to be the most appropriate as it considers all debris sizes, while CCI underestimates the pollution level of the beaches as it only takes into consideration plastic debris over 2 cm. Similarly, PPI ranked all sites as having low pollution levels, despite the high threats that pellets may pose to marine biota.
Items of marine plastic litter are conventionally classified as primary or secondary, depending on whether they are distinct objects or angular fragments, respectively. “Pyroplastic” is an additional type of plastic litter that is described here, based on observations made on beached samples from south west England. Pyroplastics are derived from the informal or more organised burning of manufactured plastics and may be angular “plastiglomerates”, comprising pieces of plastic debris within a matrix, or rounded plastic “pebbles”, where agglomerated material has been weathered and smoothed into more brittle and neutrally-coloured geogenic-looking clasts. Beached pyroplastics are usually positively buoyant because of a polyethylene or polypropylene matrix, and exhibit a bimodal mass distribution attributed to the breakage of larger clasts (>20 mm) into smaller fragments (<5 mm). XRF analysis reveals variable quantities of Pb in the matrix (up to 7500 μg g−1), often in the presence of Cr, implying that material in many samples pre-dates restrictions on the use of lead chromate. Low concentrations of Br and Sb relative to pieces of manufactured plastics in the marine environment suggest that pyroplastics are not directly or indirectly derived from electronic plastic. Calcareous worm tubes on the surfaces of pyroplastics dense enough to be temporarily submerged in the circalittoral zone are enriched in Pb, suggesting that constituents within the matrix are partly bioavailable. Evading ready detection due to their striking visual similarity to geogenic material, pyroplastics may contribute to an underestimation of the stock of beached plastics in many cases.
Ocean plastic is a contemporary focal point of concern for the marine environment. However, we argue there are bigger issues to address, including climate change and overfishing. Plastic has become a focus in the media and public domains partly through the draw of simple lifestyle changes, such as reusable water bottles, and partly through the potential to provide ‘quick fix’ technological solutions to plastic pollution, such as large scale marine clean-up operations and new ‘biodegradable’ plastic substitutes. As such, ocean plastic can provide a convenient truth that distracts us from the need for more radical changes to our behavioural, political and economic systems, addressing which will help address larger marine environmental issues, as well as the cause of plastic pollution, i.e. over-consumption.
We agree with Avery-Gomm et al. that we should not separate out environmental issues. We also agree with them over the relative threat of plastic to our oceans. However, recent evidence on the ‘spillover effect’ of pro-environmental behaviours and on public attitudes to threats to areas such as the Great Barrier Reef suggest common consumerist and political approaches to tackle plastic pollution can cause a distraction from issues caused by climate change and biodiversity loss. We reiterate that we need political changes to address overconsumption in order to make real progress on all environmental issues.
Artificial light at night (ALAN) is a recently acknowledged form of anthropogenic pollution of growing concern to the biology and ecology of exposed organisms. Though ALAN can have detrimental effects on physiology and behaviour, we have little understanding of how marine organisms in coastal areas may be impacted. Here, we investigated the effects of ALAN exposure on coral reef fish larvae during the critical recruitment stage, encompassing settlement, metamorphosis, and post-settlement survival. We found that larvae avoided illuminated settlement habitats, however those living under ALAN conditions for 10 days post-settlement experienced changes in swimming behaviour and higher susceptibility to nocturnal predation. Although ALAN-exposed fish grew faster and heavier than control fish, they also experienced significantly higher mortality rates by the end of the experimental period. This is the first study on the ecological impacts of ALAN during the early life history of marine fish.
We analysed the total mercury (Hg) accumulation in bodies and gut contents of 13 species of marine wild fish, 7 species of wild freshwater fish and 4 species of farmed fish. In addition, metal concentrations were recorded in water, sediment, fish prey and fodder materials, to track the dynamics of bio-accumulation. Cultured freshwater fish were collected at four Austrian farms and compared with samples obtained from markets. Wild marine fish were collected at Santa Croce bank, in Italy (Mediterranean Sea). Metal accumulation varied with sampling site, species, and age (or weight) of fish. Wild marine fish exhibited higher levels than wild freshwater fish, which in turn had higher Hg levels than cultured freshwater fish. Mercury increased according to trophic levels of consumers. Total Hg contents in muscle of cultured and wild freshwater fish sampled in 2006-2008 did not exceed legal nutritional limits. Similarly, in market samples of trout and carp collected in 2019, we found low or undetectable concentrations of total Hg in muscle tissue. In contrast, some marine fish (both market samples and some species from coastal waters) exceeded the legal limits. Environmental contamination, food webs and biological factors are the main causes of Hg accumulation in fish. Our results reflect the actual differences between specific European sites and should not be generalized. However, they support the generally increasing demand for monitoring mercury pollution in view of its impact on human health and its value as an indicator of ecosystem contamination.
Pollution by microplastics and antibiotics is an emerging environmental, human and animal health threat. In spite of several studies documenting the widespread occurrence of plastic debris in aquatic ecosystems, research focusing on occurrence and concentration of biological and chemical contaminants attached on microplastic surface as well as on possible interactions of these contaminants with microplastics is still at its beginning. The present note addresses the role of microplastics as vectors of contaminants in water bodies, stressing the need for future investigations on this hot topic.
The historic influence of interannual weather and climate variability on total mercury concentrations (THg) in the eggs of two species of Arctic seabird in the Canadian High Arctic was investigated. Time series of THg in the eggs of northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) and thick-billed murres (Uria lomvia) from Prince Leopold Island span 40 years (1975–2014), making these among the longest time series available for contaminants in Arctic wildlife and uniquely suitable for evaluation of long-term climate and weather influence. We compiled a suite of weather and climate time series reflecting atmospheric (air temperature, wind speed, sea level pressure) and oceanic (sea surface temperature, sea ice cover) conditions, atmosphere-ocean transfer (snow and rain), as well as broad-scale teleconnection indices such as the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). We staggered these to the optimal time lag, then in a tiered approach of successive General Linear Models (GLMs), strategically added them to GLMs to identify possible key predictors and assess any main effects on THg concentrations. We investigated time lags of 0 to 10 years between weather/climate shifts and egg collections. For both fulmars and murres, after time lags of two to seven years, the most parsimonious models included NAO and temperature, and for murres, snowfall, while the fulmar model also included sea ice. Truncated versions of the datasets (2005–2014), reflective of typical time series length for THg in Arctic wildlife, were separately assessed and generally identified similar weather predictors and effects as the full time series, but not for NAO, indicating that longer time series are more effective at elucidating relationships with broad scale climate indices. Overall, the results suggest a significant and larger than expected effect of weather and climate on THg concentrations in Arctic seabirds.