Journal article

Quantifying temporal trends in anthropogenic litter in a rocky intertidal habitat

Research Areas

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Publication Details

Author list: Weideman E, Perold V, Omardien A, Smyth L, Ryan PG

Publisher: Elsevier

Publication year: 2020

Journal: Marine Pollution Bulletin

Volume number: 160

Start page: 1

End page: 10

Total number of pages: 10

ISSN: 0025-326X



Most monitoring studies of marine anthropogenic debris have focused on sandy beaches, so little is known about
litter on rocky shorelines. We surveyed litter trapped on a rocky intertidal shore in False Bay, South Africa,
between May 2015 and March 2018. An exceptional upwelling of seabed litter occurred in November 2017 (70
items∙m−1). Excluding this event, monthly clean-ups at spring low tide collected 2 (1.3–3.1) items∙m−1∙month−1
and 31 (19.4–49.4) g∙m−1∙month−1 of which 74% was plastic (31% by mass). Litter loads peaked in autumn
when seasonal rains washed litter into False Bay, suggesting that most litter comes from local land-based sources.
Litter composition differed from that on a nearby sandy beach, with more glass and other dense items on the
rocky shore, but 60% of plastic items floated in water. Sand inundation and biotic interactions helped to trap
buoyant plastics in the intertidal zone.


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Last updated on 2021-19-03 at 09:54