Ecological impacts of marine plastic debris

The table provides a summary of peer-reviewed evidence of marine plastic impact on animal life based on analysis by Rocham et al. (2016).1 The review is based on publications through the year 2013. This data is also presented in the review by Law (2017).2

MF is an abbreviation for monofilament line.

Study Animal Encounter type Predominant debris type Impact (response)
Allen et al. 2012 Grey seals Entanglement MF line, net, rope Constriction
Beck & Barros, 1991 Manatees Entanglement MF line, bags, other debris Death
Campagna et al. 2007 Elephant seals Entanglement MF line, fishing jigs Dermal wound
Croxall et al. 1990 Fur seals Entanglement Packing band, fishing gear, other debris Dermal wound
Dau et al. 2009 Seabirds, pinnipeds Entanglement Fishing gear External wound
Fowler 1987 Fur seals Entanglement Trawl netting, packing bands Death
Fowler 1987

(correlative evidence only)

Fur seals Entanglement Trawl netting, packing bands Reduced population size
Good et al. 2010 Invertebrates, fish, seabirds, marine mammals Entanglement Derelict gillnets Death
Moore et al. 2009 Seabirds, marine mammals Entanglement Plastic, fishing line Death
Pham et al. 2013 Gorgonians Entanglement Fishing line Damage/breakage
Velez-Rubio et al. 2013 Sea turtles Entanglement Fishing gear Death
Winn et al. 2008 Whales Entanglement Plastic line Dermal wound
Woodward et al. 2006 Whales Entanglement Plastic line Dermal wound
Beck & Barros 1991 Manatees Ingestion MF line, bags, other debris Death
Bjorndal et al. 1994 Sea turtles Ingestion MF line, fish hooks, other debris Intestinal blockage, death
Brandao et al. 2011 Penguins Ingestion Plastic, fishing gear, other debris
Browne et al. 2013 Lugworms (laboratory) Ingestion Microplastics Biochemical/cellular, death
Bugoni et al. 2001 Sea turtles Ingestion Plastic bags, ropes Gut obstruction, death
Carey 2011 Seabirds Ingestion Plastic particles, pellets Perforated gut
Cedervall et al. 2012 Fish (laboratory) Ingestion Nanoparticles Biochemical/cellular
Connors & Smith 1982

(correlative evidence only)

Seabirds Ingestion Plastic pellets, foam Biochemical/cellular
Dau et al. 2009 Seabirds, pinnipeds Ingestion Fishing hooks Internal wound
de Stephanis et al. 2013 Sperm whale Ingestion Identifiable litter items Gastric rupture, death
Fry et al. 1987 Seabirds Ingestion Plastic fragments, pellets, identifiable litter Gut impaction, ulcerative lesions
Jacobsen et al. 2010 Sperm whales Ingestion Fishing gear, other debris Gastric rupture, gut impaction, death
Lee et al. 2013 Copepods (laboratory) Ingestion Micro- and nanoplastics Death
Oliveira et al. 2013 Fish (laboratory) Ingestion Microplastics Biochemical/cellular
Rochman et al. 2013a-c Fish (laboratory) Ingestion Microplastics Biochemical/cellular
Ryan 1988 Birds (laboratory) Ingestion Microplastics Reduced organ size
Velez-Rubio et al. 2013 Sea turtles Ingestion Marine debris Gut obstruction
Wright et al. 2013 Lugworms (laboratory) Ingestion Microplastics Biochemical/cellular
Von Moos et al. 2012 Mussels (laboratory) Ingestion and gill uptake Microplastics Biochemical/cellular
Katsanevakis et al. 2007 Epibenthic megafauna Interaction (contact) Plastic bottles, glass jars Altered assemblage
Lewis et al. 2009 Sessile invertebrates (coral reef) Interaction (contact) Lobster traps Altered assemblage
Uneputty & Evans 1997 (correlative evidence only) Assemblage on sediment Interaction (contact) Plastic litter Altered assemblage
Chiappone et al. 2002 Sessile invertebrates (coral reef) Interaction (contact) MF line, lobster trap, hook and line gear Tissue abrasion
Chiappone et al. 2005 Sessile invertebrates (coral reef) Interaction (contact) Hook and line gear Tissue abrasion
Uhrin & Schellinger 2011 Seagrass Interaction (contact) Crab pots, tires, wood Breakage, suffocation, death
Ozdilek et al. 2006 (correlative evidence only) Sea turtles Interaction (obstruction) Waste, medical waste Reduced population size
Widmer & Hennemann 2010 (correlative evidence only) Ghost crabs Interaction (obstruction) Beach litter, mostly plastic Reduced population size
Widmer & Hennemann 2010 (correlative evidence only) Ghost crabs Interaction (substrate) Beach litter, mostly plastic Altered assemblage
Goldstein et al. 2012 (correlative evidence only) Marine insects Interaction (substrate) Microplastics Increased population size