Encrusters, Epibionts, and Other Biota Associated with Pelagic Plastics: A Review of Biogeographical, Environmental, and Conservation Issues
Entanglement, ingestion, and ghost-fishing are well-documented biologically damaging effects of marine debris. Debris may also smother benthic communities on soft and hard bottoms (Parker 1990). For a number of organisms, however, plastic debris provides a positive opportunity, creating new habitats in the form of numerous, semipermanent floating islands, which are driven by winds and currents around the world’s oceans. Although these epibiotic assemblages seem to be most common in warm-water regions, biologically encrusted plastic items have already been found at sites ranging from the Subantarctic to the Equator (Gregory et al. 1984; Gregory 1990a, 1990b). This paper focuses on studies by the three authors at sites in the Western Atlantic and the Southern Pacific, with findings of worldwide relevance.
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