Mordecai, Gideon, Tyler, Paul A., Masson, Douglas G. and Huvenne, Veerle A.I.
Litter in submarine canyons off the west coast of Portugal
Deep-Sea Research II, 58, (23-24), . (doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2011.08.009).
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Marine litter is of global concern and is present in all the world’s oceans, including deep benthic habitats where the extent of the problem is still largely unknown. Litter abundance and composition were investigated using video footage and still images from 16 Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) dives in Lisbon, Setúbal, Cascais and Nazaré Canyons located west of Portugal. Litter was most abundant at sites closest to the coastline and population centres, suggesting the majority of the litter was land sourced. Plastic was the dominant type of debris, followed by fishing gear. Standardised mean abundance was 1100 litter items km?2, but was as high as 6600 litter items km?2 in canyons close to Lisbon. Although all anthropogenic material may be harmful to biota, debris was also used as a habitat by some macro-invertebrates. Litter composition and abundance observed in the canyons of the Portuguese margin were comparable to those seen in other deep sea areas around the world. Accumulation of litter in the deep sea is a consequence of human activities both on land and at sea. This needs to be taken into account in future policy decisions regarding marine pollution.
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