Colonizing of sea floor litter by benthic organisms in the north-western Black Sea (Gulf of Odessa)

Anastasiia Snigirova, Elena Uzun, Valentyn Portyanko

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In the Black Sea, plastic pollution is in the top of marine litter flowing from the rivers and may change the bottom landscapes providing the new type of substrate for benthic assemblages. The great efforts have been made by monitoring organizations to understand the composition and concentration of marine litter in the region. However, a few studies have been conducted to analyze the processes of biofouling formation on the surface of plastic substrate. The aim of present research was to initiate the study of community structure on the surface of plastic substrates in the northwestern Black Sea. The plastic litter was sampled on three transects in the Gulf of Odessa at depths of 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6 m on July and October in 2018. Video transects revealed 32 items of litter per 1 km2, whereas video observations by diver showed maximum concentration of litter on the depth of 2-3 m between the coastal hydrotechnical constructions. The most common litter was plastic bags (up to 80%). On the surface of collected marine plastic litter, the diverse and complex assemblage of benthic organisms was registered. For the first time 49 species of microalgae (Bacillariophyta (38 species), Chlorophyta (1), Dinophyta (2) and Cyanoprokaryota (8)), 5 species of macrophytes, 14 groups of meiobenthos (Harpacticoida (19 species), Ostracoda (13 species)) and 4 species of macrozoobenthos were found on plastic surface in NWBS region. Benthic communities were represented by typical widespread species that dwell on other artificial and natural surfaces in this water area. The lower abundance of benthic organisms was revealed on plastics in comparison with natural substrates. The dense material (white plastic bags) has less biofouling than transparent plastic bags and bottles. Intensification of general biofouling was observed on the bottles in summer and on plastic bags in autumn. The further studies should be focused on patterns of biofouling formation, comparison with the other substrates and processes of plastic biodegradation that will form understanding of the "good environmental status" of the Black Sea in line with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarine Litter in the Black Sea
EditorsÜlgen Aytan, Maria Pogojeva, Anna Simeonova
Place of PublicationTurkey
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-975-8825-48-6
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Meiobenthos
  • diatoms
  • biofouling
  • colonizers
  • sea-floor plastic


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