Floating macro litter in the Finike (Anaximander) Seamounts and adjacent waters in the eastern Mediterranean

Floating macro litter in the Finike (Anaximander) Seamounts and adjacent waters in the eastern Mediterranean

Ülgen Aytan, Uğur Özsandıkçı, Onur Gönülal, Arda M. Tonay, Ayhan Dede, Ayaka Amaha Öztürk 

ORCID IDs: U.A. 0000-0002-6530-3083; U.O. 0000-0002-7246-5494; O.G. 0000-0002-5559-3953; A.M.T. 0000-0003-2718-9328; A. D 0000-0002-7712-615X;
A.A.Ö. 0000-0003-2281-7372

Department of Marine Biology, Recep Tayyip Erdogan University, 53100, Rize, TÜRKİYE
Faculty of Fisheries, Sinop University, Akliman Mevkii, 57000, Sinop, TÜRKİYE
Faculty of Aquatic Sciences, Istanbul University, Onaltı Mart Şehitleri Cad. No: 2, 34134 Fatih, Istanbul, TÜRKİYE
Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV), P.O. Box: 10, Beykoz, Istanbul, TÜRKİYE


Floating macro litter (>2.5cm; FML) has serious ecological and socio-economic impacts and needs to be quantified in order to inform on the environmental status and to better understand the sources and trends of litter in the marine environment. In this study, FML pollution was assessed in the Finike (Anaximander) Seamounts region, a marine protected area in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Density and composition of FML were determined from a total of 27 visual surveys, covering a total length of 970.4km, during two research cruises in May and September 2021. Relative FML densities were highly variable between surveys, ranging from 0 to 145 items.km-2 and 0 to 82 items.km-2 in May and September, respectively. Overall, the average density of FML was 22.79 items.km-2. Plastics constituted 98.8% of the total FML observed. The most common items were plastic bags, food packaging and plastic and polystyrene fragments. Predominance of plastic FML in the Finike Seamounts region indicates a high potential for plastics to interact with marine biota, including endangered species, in this protected area. Results highlight the need to better understand the effects of plastics in this special ecosystem and the urgency to implement measures at national and international levels to address the problem of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea.

Keywords: Floating litter, plastics, pollution, MSFD, Mediterranean Sea

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