Journal of Oceanography

, Volume 72, Issue 6, pp 895–903 | Cite as

The Ryukyu Trench may function as a “depocenter” for anthropogenic marine litter

  • Motohiro Shimanaga
  • Kensuke Yanagi
Original Article


While concern over anthropogenic marine litter around coastlines is increasing worldwide, information on this litter in trenches on the seafloor is very sparse. We investigated the amount of marine litter on the deep-sea bottom around the Ryukyu Islands in the Northwest Pacific, based on trawl samples. The density of litter observed in the axis of the Ryukyu Trench (7100 m) and in the basin of the Okinawa Trough ranged from 1.2 × 103 to 7.1 × 103 items km−2, or 7.5–121.4 kg km−2, which was significantly higher than that observed on the adjacent shallower continental slopes or abyssal plain (0.1 × 103 to 0.6 × 103 items km−2; 0.03–9.2 kg km−2). This suggests that trenches and troughs function as “depocenters” for anthropogenic litter because of their deeper and enclosed topographies.


Marine litter Trench Trough Deep-sea Anthropogenic impact 



We thank the officers and crew of the research vessel Hakuho Maru of the independent administrative institution, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). Special thanks to two anonymous reviewers, who kindly checked our manuscript. We also thank Dr. Suguru Ohta, who organized the KH-05-1 cruise, and scientists and technicians who assisted with our sampling during the cruise.


  1. Barnes DKA, Walters A, Gonçalves L (2010) Macroplastics at sea around Antarctica. Mar Environ Res 70:250–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bergmann M, Klages M (2012) Increase of litter at the Arctic deep-sea observatory HAUSGARTEN. Mar Pollut Bull 64:2734–2741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bergmann M, Gutow L, Klages M (2015) Marine anthropogenic litter. Springer, Cham, p 447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boetius A, Scheibe S, Tselepides A, Thiel H (1996) Microbial biomass and activities in deep-sea sediments of the Eastern Mediterranean: trenches are benthic hotspots. Deep Sea Res I 43:1439–1460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Danovaro R, Della Croce N, Dell’Anno A, Pusceddu A (2003) A depocenter of organic matter at 7800 m depth in the SE Pacific Ocean. Deep Sea Res I 50:1411–1420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fischer V, Elsner NO, Brenke N, Schwabe E, Brandt A (2015) Plastic pollution of the Kuril–Kamchatka Trench area (NW pacific). Deep Sea Res II 111:399–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gage JD, Tyler PA (1991) Deep-sea biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Galgani F, Souplet A, Cadiou Y (1996) Accumulation of debris on the deep sea floor off the French Mediterranean coast. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 142:225–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Galgani F, Hanke G, Maes T (2015) Global distribution, composition and abundance of marine litter. In: Bergmann M, Gutow L, Klages M (eds) Marine anthropogenic litter. Springer, Cham, pp 29–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Goto T, Shibata H (2015) Changes in abundance and composition of anthropogenic marine debris on the continental slope off the Pacific coast of northern Japan, after the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Mar Pollut Bull 95:234–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Itoh M, Kawamura K, Kitahashi T, Kojima S, Katagiri H, Shimanaga M (2011) Bathymetric patterns of meiofaunal abundance and biomass associated with the Kuril and Ryukyu trenches, western North Pacific Ocean. Deep Sea Res I 58:86–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jamieson A (2015) The hadal zone: life in the deepest oceans. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p 372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Keller AA, Fruh EL, Johnson MM, Simon V, McGourty C (2010) Distribution and abundance of anthropogenic marine debris along the shelf and slope of the US west coast. Mar Pollut Bull 60:692–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lee JE (2012) Ocean’s deep, dark trenches to get their moment in the spotlight. Science 336:141–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Miyake H, Shibata H, Furushima Y (2011) Deep-sea litter study using deep-sea observation tools. In: Omori K, Guo X, Yoshie N, Fujii N, Handoh IC, Isobe A, Tanabe S (eds) Interdisciplinary studies on environmental chemistry—marine environmental modeling and analysis. Terra Scientific Publishing Company, Tokyo, pp 261–269Google Scholar
  16. Pham CK, Ramirez-Llodra E, Alt CHS, Amaro T, Bergmann M, Canals M, Company JB, Davies J, Duineveld G, Galgani F, Howell KL, Huvenne VA, Isidro E, Jones DO, Lastras G, Morato T, Gomes-Pereira JN, Purser A, Stewart H, Tojeira I, Tubau X, Van Rooij D, Tyler PA (2014) Marine Litter distribution and density in European seas, from the shelves to deep basins. PLoS One 9(4):e95839. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095839 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ramirez-Llodra E, Tyler PA, Baker MC, Bergstad OA, Clark MR, Escobar E, Levin LA, Menot L, Rowden AA, Smith CR, Van Dover CL (2011) Man and the last great wilderness: human impact on the deep sea. PLoS One 6(7):e22588. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022588 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ramirez-Llodra E, De Mol B, Company JB, Coll M, Sardà F (2013) Effects of natural and anthropogenic processes in the distribution of marine litter in the deep Mediterranean Sea. Prog Oceanogr 118:273–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Schlining K, von Thun S, Kuhnz L, Schlining B, Lundsten L, Jacobsen-Stout N, Chaney L, Connor J (2013) Debris in the deep: using a 22-year video annotation database to survey marine litter in Monterey Canyon, central California, USA. Deep Sea Res I 79:96–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Tubau X, Canals M, Lastras G, Rayo X, Rivera J, Amblas D (2015) Marine litter on the floor of deep submarine canyons of the Northwestern Mediterranean Sea: the role of hydrodynamic processes. Prog Oceanogr 134:379–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. UNEP (2005) Marine litter, an analytical overview. Nairobi, p 58. Retrieved 14 July 2016
  22. UNEP (2009) Marine litter: a global challenge. Nairobi, p 232. Retrieved 14 July 2016
  23. Vieira RP, Raposo IP, Sobral P, Gonçalves JMS, Bell KLC, Cunha MR (2014) Lost fishing gear and litter at Gorringe Bank (NE Atlantic). J Sea Res 100:91–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Watters DL, Yoklavich MM, Love MS, Schroeder DM (2010) Assessing marine debris in deep seafloor habitats off California. Mar Pollut Bull 60:131–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Woodall LC, Sanchez-Vidal A, Canals M, Paterson GLJ, Coppock R, Sleight V, Calafat A, Rogers AD, Narayanaswamy BE, Thompson RC (2014) The deep sea is a major sink for microplastic debris. R Soc Open Sci 1:140317CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Oceanographic Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aitsu Marine Station, Center for Marine Environment StudiesKumamoto UniversityKami-AmakusaJapan
  2. 2.Coastal Branch of Natural History Museum and InstituteKatsuuraJapan

Personalised recommendations