Drew M. Martin

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2018


From both land-based and marine-based sources, persistent synthetic debris has become ubiquitous in the marine environment, indiscriminately occupying populous coastal areas, as well as remote islands and depths of the global oceans. The high prevalence of marine debris facilitates encounters with marine life, which can often produce detrimental consequences for the organism, typically via ingestion or entanglement. As the diverse coastal and marine life in Florida constitutes a crucial natural resource, it is important to assess, monitor, identify, record, and mitigate the impacts of marine debris on wildlife. By collecting literature from peer-reviewed journals, as well as reports and data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), this report compiled relevant information regarding marine debris and its interactions with and impacts on Florida wildlife. Gathered from 258 sources, this review includes debris interactions and impacts on several taxa, including Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris), sea turtles, crocodilians, smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), and sessile anthozoans and sponges. Additionally, the various indirect effects of marine debris on wildlife are also discussed. Recommendations to combat the marine debris problem at both a local and global scale largely involve education and the implementation of debris mitigation strategies, such as the Florida Marine Debris Reduction Guidance Plan (FMDRGP) which address, in part, debris prevention, removal, and research. This review is intended to serve as a tool to develop practical solutions and further the collective knowledge on the debris issue at hand; as such, it is also a living document, which can be updated as new information arises, as well as be expanded with other Florida taxa.


Department: MBE

MPS Track: MMS

Location: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute Southeast Field Laboratory

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