MEPS 485:155-163 (2013)  -  doi:10.3354/meps10342

Plastic for dinner? Observations of frequent debris ingestion by pelagic predatory fishes from the central North Pacific

C. Anela Choy*, Jeffrey C. Drazen

Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii, 1000 Pope Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

ABSTRACT: There have been numerous reports of plastic debris accumulation in surface waters of the central North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Further, incidences have been reported of plastic ingestion by different marine organisms, including seabirds and small planktivorous fishes. Diet studies (2007 to 2012) of predatory pelagic fishes from this general region showed repeat observations of anthropogenic marine debris ingestion in 7 species (n = 595 individuals examined). Incidence rates ranged from <1% in Gempylus serpens to 58% in Lampris sp. (small-eye). Of all individuals 19% contained some form of marine debris, the majority of which was some form of plastic or fishing-related line. Surprisingly, species with the highest incidences of debris ingestion are thought to be primarily mesopelagic and unlikely to come into contact with surface waters containing known debris fields. Ingested debris pieces were found to be positively buoyant  in seawater mimicking different depths. These observations are the first of their kind in scope and number, and suggest that more attention should be given to marine debris in subsurface waters as well as to poorly understood organismal and food web implications.


KEY WORDS: Anthropogenic marine debris · Plastic ingestion · Pelagic marine fishes · Mesopelagic fishes · North Pacific Subtropical Gyre · Opah · Lancetfish


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Cite this article as: Choy CA, Drazen JC (2013) Plastic for dinner? Observations of frequent debris ingestion by pelagic predatory fishes from the central North Pacific. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 485:155-163

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