[Coral-List] plastic waste and coral disease

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Fri Jan 26 01:13:52 EST 2018

Plastic waste associated with disease on coral reefs.



Not open-access   Click on "all authors and affiliations" look for
"corresponding author email"

Corals wrapped in plastic

Coral reefs provide vital fisheries and coastal defense, and they urgently
need protection from the damaging effects of plastic waste. Lamb *et
al.* surveyed
159 coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific region. Billions of plastic items were
entangled in the reefs. The more spikey the coral species, the more likely
they were to snag plastic. Disease likelihood increased 20-fold once a
coral was draped in plastic. Plastic debris stresses coral through light
deprivation, toxin release, and anoxia, giving pathogens a foothold for


Plastic waste can promote microbial colonization by pathogens implicated in
outbreaks of disease in the ocean. We assessed the influence of plastic
waste on disease risk in 124,000 reef-building corals from 159 reefs in the
Asia-Pacific region. The likelihood of disease increases from 4% to 89%
when corals are in contact with plastic. Structurally complex corals are
eight times more likely to be affected by plastic, suggesting that
microhabitats for reef-associated organisms and valuable fisheries will be
disproportionately affected. Plastic levels on coral reefs correspond to
estimates of terrestrial mismanaged plastic waste entering the ocean. We
estimate that 11.1 billion plastic items are entangled on coral reefs
across the Asia-Pacific and project this number to increase 40% by 2025.
Plastic waste management is critical for reducing diseases that threaten
ecosystem health and human livelihoods.

Cheers,  Doug

Douglas Fenner
Contractor for NOAA NMFS Protected Species, and consultant
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA

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Even without El Nino, 2017 temperatures soared.


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