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Spatio-temporal distribution of floating objects in the German Bight (North Sea)


Thiel, M and Hinojosa Toledo, IA and Joschko, T and Gutow, L, Spatio-temporal distribution of floating objects in the German Bight (North Sea), Journal of Sea Research, 65, (3) pp. 368-379. ISSN 1385-1101 (2011) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2011 Elsevier

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.seares.2011.03.002


Floating objects facilitate the dispersal ofmarine and terrestrial species but also represent amajor environmental hazard in the case of anthropogenic plastic litter. They can be found throughout the world's oceans but information on their abundance and the spatio-temporal dynamics is scarce for many regions of the world. This information, however, is essential to evaluate the ecological role of floating objects. Herein, we report the results from a ship-based visual survey on the abundance and composition of flotsam in the German Bight (North Sea) during the years 2006 to 2008. The aim of this study was to identify potential sources of floating objects and to relate spatio-temporal density variations to environmental conditions. Three major flotsam categories were identified: buoyant seaweed (mainly fucoid brown algae), natural wood and anthropogenic debris. Densities of these floating objects in the German Bightwere similar to those reported fromother coastal regions of theworld. Temporal variations in flotsam densities are probably the result of seasonal growth cycles of seaweeds and fluctuating river runoff (wood). Higher abundances were often found in areas where coastal fronts and eddies develop during calm weather conditions. Accordingly, flotsam densities were often higher in the inner German Bight than in areas farther offshore. Import of floating objects and retention times in the German Bight are influenced by wind force and direction. Our results indicate that a substantial amount of floating objects is of coastal origin or introduced into the German Bight fromwestern source areas such as the British Channel. Rapid transport of floating objects through the German Bight is driven by strong westerly winds and likely facilitates dispersal of associated organisms and gene flow among distant populations

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Floating algae; Driftwood; Anthropogenic debris; Dispersal; Rafting; North Sea
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Hinojosa Toledo, IA (Mr Ivan Hinojosa)
ID Code:88807
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:76
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2014-02-17
Last Modified:2014-05-22

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