Effects of a Lost Shipping Container in the Deep Sea

Shipping containers are the most common method for transporting goods both domestically and internationally. Maritime shipping poses a threat to benthic communities when containers lost overboard disturb marine habitats and later become colonized as novel hard substrate. One such lost container was discovered in 2004 in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The container was visited by remotely operated vehicle in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2021. High- definition video collected during these visits was used to identify the species present to determine how the community that formed on the container changed over time. A previous study found that the container had ecological effects limited to the surrounding 10 m area, but that, with the exception of a few key taxa such as corals, the faunal community on the container was similar to that occurring on hard substrata naturally present in the deep sea. While we observed significant changes in the presence and dominance of certain species through the study period, the assemblage hosted on the container remained typical of hard substrate communities within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Key Words

deep sea ecology, community ecology, pollution, marine debris, national marine sanctuary