Marine mammals and debris in coastal waters of British Columbia, Canada

Rob Williams*, Erin Ashe, Patrick D. O'Hara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Entanglement in and ingestion of synthetic marine debris is increasingly recognized worldwide as an important stressor for marine wildlife, including marine mammals. Studying its impact on wildlife populations is complicated by the inherently cryptic nature of the problem. The coastal waters of British Columbia (BC), Canada provide important habitat for marine mammal species, many of which have unfavorable conservation status in the US and Canada. As a priority-setting exercise, we used data from systematic line-transect surveys and spatial modeling methods to map at-sea distribution of debris and 11 marine mammal species in BC waters, and to identify areas of overlap. We estimated abundance of 36,000 (CIs: 23,000-56,600) pieces of marine debris in the region. Areas of overlap were often far removed from urban centers, suggesting that the extent of marine mammal-debris interactions would be underestimated from opportunistic sightings and stranding records, and that high-overlap areas should be prioritized by stranding response networks. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1316
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume62
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011

Keywords

  • Entanglement
  • Ingestion
  • Marine debris
  • Marine mammal
  • Plastic
  • Risk assessment
  • PLASTIC DEBRIS
  • ENVIRONMENT
  • CETACEANS
  • MORTALITY
  • POLLUTION
  • SEA
  • CONSERVATION
  • ABUNDANCE
  • SEABIRD
  • WHALES

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