Increase of litter at the Arctic deep-sea observatory HAUSGARTEN

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Bergmann, M. and Klages, M. (2012): Increase of litter at the Arctic deep-sea observatory HAUSGARTEN , Marine Pollution Bulletin, 64 (12), pp. 2734-2741 . doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2012.09.018
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Although recent research has shown that marine litter has made it even to the remotest parts of our planet, little information is available about temporal trends on the deep ocean floor. To quantify litter on the deep seafloor over time, we analysed images from the HAUSGARTEN observatory (79°N) taken in 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2011 (2500m depth). Our results indicate that litter increased from 3,635 to 7,710 items km-2 between 2002 and 2011 and reached densities similar to those reported from a canyon near the Portuguese capital Lisboa. Plastic constituted the majority of litter (59%) followed by a black fabric (11%) and cardboard/paper (7%). 67% of the litter was entangled or colonised by invertebrates such as sponges (41%) or sea anemones (15%). The changes in litter could be an indirect consequence of the receding sea ice, which opens the Arctic Ocean to the impacts of man’s activities.

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