Floating macro-litter along the Mediterranean French coast: Composition, density, distribution and overlap with cetacean range

This study investigated the composition, density and distribution of floating macro-litter along the Liguro-Provençal basin with respect to cetaceans presence. Survey transects were performed in summer between 2006 and 2015 from sailing vessels with simultaneous cetaceans observations. During 5171 km travelled, 1993 floating items were recorded, widespread in the whole study area. Plastics was the predominant category, with bags/packaging always representing > 45% of total items. Overall mean density (14.98 items/km2) was stable with significant increase reported only in 2010–2011; monthly analysis showed lower litter densities in July–September, suggesting possible seasonal patterns. Kernel density estimation for plastics revealed ubiquitous distribution rather than high accumulation areas, mainly due to the circulation dynamics of this area. The presence range of cetaceans (259 sightings, 6 species) corresponded by ~ 50% with plastic distribution, indicating high potential of interaction, especially in the eastern part of the area, but effective risks for marine species might be underrepresented.

Nathalie Di-Méglio, Ilaria Campana, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 118, Issues 1–2, 15 May 2017, Pages 155–166

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