MEPS 262:289-291 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps262289

Rafting by five phyla on man-made flotsam in the Southern Ocean

David K. A. Barnes*, Keiron P. P. Fraser

British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK

ABSTRACT: In just 4 decades, marine litter has become abundant in northern oceans and seas and is increasing on even remote Southern Ocean island shores. The Southern Ocean was thought to be protected from rafting organisms by its freezing sea surface temperatures. Here we report on an assemblage of animals attached to a piece of plastic that was washed ashore on Adelaide Island, Antarctic Peninsula (68°S). The band of plastic was positively buoyant. At least 10 species belonging to 5 phyla were present on the plastic and the size of some indicated that it had been afloat for more than a year. Clearly it is possible for a range of animals to survive and grow in such an environment, and so exotic species could enter or leave the Southern Ocean.


KEY WORDS: Marine debris · Plastic · Invasive species · Antarctica


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