The role of seagrass meadows in the coastal trapping of litter.
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SourceMarine Pollution Bulletin 174 (2022) 113299
The accelerated discard and mismanagement of human-made products are resulting in the continued input of litter into the oceans. Models and field observations show how floating litter can accumulate in remote areas throughout the global ocean, but far less is known about the non-floating litter fraction. Seagrass meadows play an important role in the sediment and natural-debris dynamics, and likely also in the storage and processing of non-floating litter. In this work, non-floating litter was studied across six Posidonia oceanica meadows. Litter accumulated mainly around the landside edge of the meadow. The outer margin of the edge predominantly trapped macro-litter, whilst microplastics accumulated mainly along the inner margin. On average, macro-litter concentrations increased 3-fold after heavy rainfall. Retention of non-floating litter by coastal meadows facilitates the recurrent landward-seaward conveyance of the easily-transportable litter (mainly plastic items) and its fragmentation before it is buried or transferred to deeper areas.