Rivers as a source of marine litter – A study from the SE Pacific

Composition and abundance of persistent buoyant litter (plastics, polystyrene and manufactured wood) were investigated at riversides and on adjacent coastal beaches of four rivers flowing into the SE Pacific Ocean. Persistent buoyant litter made up the main share of litter at riversides (36-82%) and on coastal beaches near the river mouths (67-86%). The characteristic litter composition of each river is attributable to human influences along its course. Riverine litter items were deposited to both sides of the river mouths on coastal beaches, and their abundance generally declined with distance from the river mouth. However, maximum litter accumulations were often found on beaches north of the river mouth, suggesting a long-term influence of the prevailing equatorward low-level jet along the Chilean coast. The results confirm that riverine transport has an important impact on litter abundances on coastal beaches.

Rech, S., Macaya-Caquilpan, V., Pantoja, J. F. and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol. 82 (1-2), Pages 66-75, May 2014

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