Debris accumulation on oceanic island shores of the Scotia Arc, Antarctica
The oceanic islands in the Southern Ocean can be considered amongst the remotest shores as, not only are they uninhabited (except for small research stations) and geographically isolated, but they are also enclosed by the oceanographic barrier of the Polar Frontal Zone. We survey island shores in the Scotia Arc mountain chain linking Antarctica to South America, including South Georgia, the South Sandwich archipelago and Adelaide Island off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, and compare our findings to literature reports from two other Scotia Arc island groups (South Orkney and South Shetland archipelagos). The presence of marine pollution (in the form of beached debris) in this region is significant, both as a measure of man's influence on this isolated environment, and due to direct dangers posed to the fauna. This paper reports the results of surveys of beached marine debris at various times in the last decade for each island group. The majority (> 70%) of the items recovered were anthropogenic in origin and most of these were synthetic (plastic or polystyrene). Debris densities varied from zero to 0.3 items m(-1) but were typically lower than those reported from other regions of the globe. At some localities (South Georgia), marine-debris data showed a close relationship with local fishery activity, whilst at others (South Sandwich Islands) debris appeared to have a more distant origin. Unlike oceanic debris in warm (non-polar) water localities, there was no evidence of any colonisation by biota. Debris accumulation may provide a useful indirect measure of local fishery activity and compliance with CCAMLR regulations, as well as monitoring the state of the oceans and island shores.
Authors: Convey, Peter, Barnes, David K.A., Morton, A.