Vol.3, No.11, 921-926 (2011) Natural Science
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
Marine litter at (Al-Ghandoor area) the most northern
part of the Jordanian coast of the Gulf of Aqaba,
Red Sea
Tariq Al-Najjar1*, Abd Al-Wahab Al-Shiyab2
1Faculty of Marine Sciences, Department of Marine Biology, Jordan University, Aqaba Branch, Aqaba, Jorden;
*Corresponding Author: t.najjar@ju.edu.jo
2Marine Science Station, Jordan University/Yarmouk University, Aqaba, Jorden.
Received 1 October 2011; revised 5 November 2011; accepted 15 November 2011.
Composition and abundance of submerged ma-
rine litter at one selected site within a coral reef
area along the Jordanian coast of the Gulf of
Aqaba has been estimated. The litter was col-
lected in a clean up voluntarily campaigns that
took place in the period 19 September 2006. A
total of 14,613 items weighing 4112.2 kg were
collected during the survey. Mean litter density
in the individual sampling sites varied between
about 1 and 6 items/m2 with an over all mean
density of 2 items/m2. The mean weight of the
collected items per sampling site varied be-
tween 0.06 and 1.81 kg/m2 with an overall mean
of 0.85 kg/m2. Cans accounted for 41% of the
collected items, plastic was the second most
popular (38%) while glass litter was the third
most abundant item (17%). By comparison,
other items formed only 4% of the total items
collected during the campaigns. Approximately
46% of the plastic litter consisted of fragments
followed by bottles bags and containers (18%).
Potential sources are pointed out and recom-
mendations and actions to deal with the prob-
lem are suggested.
Keywords: Marine Debris; Marine Litter; Gulf of
Aqaba; Clean up Dive
Marine litter composition, abundance, distribution and
quantification of the types and amounts on beaches have
been studied and reported from many parts of the world
The main sources of marine litter are the: sea-borne
sources which include industrial and domestic wastes
disposed off at sea, and the land-based sources which
include litter originating from visitors to the coast,
whether small items such as drink cans and containers,
or those originating from the unauthorized dumping of
large items such as landfill materials [5,16,20-28].
Benthic marine debris may also have detrimental ef-
fect on coral reef ecosystem by damaging of corals cov-
ered by debris [29]. Movement of fishing gear can cause
damage to coral substrate comprising the reef structure;
some nets recovered had 20% of their weight attributable
to broken coral fragments. Movement of fishing gear
across shallow reefs destroys other benthic reef flora and
fauna and entangles macrofauna, including threatened
and endangered species [30].
2.1. Clean Up Sites
Submerged debris was removed and collected from
one underwater site within coral reef areas at the most
northern tip of the Jordanian coast of the Gulf of Aqaba
(Figure 1). Site was selected based on the type of usage
and activities that take place at the site. The North beach
(Al-Ghandoor ) is located at the most northern part of the
Gulf of Aqaba, and characterized by heavy tourism ac-
tivities and by the presence of many public cafés. How-
ever, diving, snorkeling and swimming activities are
permitted within this site.
2.2. Method of Clean Up Survey
The clean up campaign has been conducted in 16 Sep-
tember 2006. Site was divided into one segments/tran-
sect (one squares) of 20 m × 20 m; the total area of site
was 400 m2. All litter at the site was collected by 60
SCUBA divers moving along the transect, to ensure that
T. Al-Najjar et al. / Natural Science 3 (2011) 921-926
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
Figure 1. Clean up dive site, along the Jordanian coast of the
Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea.
all debris within the transect were collected. Divers pick
up debris free from the substrate/sea bottom using care
to avoid disturbing the sea bottom agitating the sedi-
ments, stepping on marine biota or causing coral damage.
Pieces of nets found fully incorporate into the reef
structure, and no longer an entanglement hazard, were
left in place to avoid additional coral damage and pre-
serve associated-coral growth. Removed debris was
lifted to the sea surface by using lifting bags carried by
the two divers. Snorklers on the sea surface were helping
in collecting the filled bags. All debris was then trans-
ported to the beach where it was sorted into broad cate-
gories: glass, metals, plastic, cardboard, rubber, fishing
gear and others. Each category was further sorted into
more subcategories: cups, bags, containers, etc., which
were counted and weighed. Total amount of debris in
each site was determined by summing the amount of
litter for each liters bag. Table 1 shows the total number
of divers participated in each clean up dive.
A total of 14,613 litter items weighing 4112.2 kg were
collected during the clean up of Al-Ghandoor site. In
terms of counts per m2 (36.5 item/m2), mean counts of
litter in the site varied from 0.008 to 15 item/m2 with an
overall mean of 3.04 item/m2 for the whole study area
(Figure 2).
In terms of weight (10.28 kg/m2), the mean weight of
the items collected from the sampling sites varied from
0.055 - 2.98 kg/m2, with an overall mean of 0.86 kg/m2
Table 1. Clean up participants and total number of divers par-
ticipated in clean up dive.
Clean up participants Number of Divers
Aqaba Marine Park Center of ASEZA 4
Royal Navy 20
Marine Science Station 6
Jordan Royal Ecological Diving Society (JREDS) 10
Private diving centers 20
Total 60
for the whole study area (Figure 3).
When the type of litter was considered metal cans
showed the highest litter occurrence 41% compared with
the rest items (Figure 4). Plastic accounted for 38% of
the items counted, while total glass was the third most
important item and constituted 17%. Other item was the
fourth most important item. Within the plastics when the
weight is considered, about 36% consisted of bottles and
36% of Fragments, whereas, containers bags accounted
for 28% and 2% respectively (Figure 5).
A significant amount of literature is dedicated to
beach litter types, distributions, and temporal variations
[7], but almost no exist with respect to submerged (ben-
thic) marine litter by the 1990s [31]. In comparison, only
few studies have recently been published with regard to
submerged and subsurface nearshore litter on the global
level ([20,32-35]).
Searching the literature, we did not fined a single re-
port on this subject in the whole Red Sea region includ-
ing the Gulf of Aqaba. The first single published report
was by [36] on the litter pollution on the Jordanian
shores of the Gulf of Aqaba. In that report we hinted
very briefly to the presence of marine debris in the
coastal waters and among the corals of the Jordanian
side of the Gulf of Aqaba.
Knowing the seriousness of the problem we felt it is
urgent to follow up this issue, investigate the magnitude
of the problem, and try to provide information that can
help the official authorities and decision makers to deal-
ing with the issue and solving the problems related to it.
Therefore, we participated in the clean up dive cam-
paigns, identified, categorized, and enumerated the col-
lected items and finally reported the results of the cam-
The results indicate a high diversity of litter collected
from the studied site. The most likely explanation for
this diversity is related to the uses of the selected site.
The higher counts of items found at Al-Ghandoor site is
T. Al-Najjar et al. / Natural Science 3 (2011) 921-926
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
Figure 2. Total number of litter per m2 and its percentage in clean up site.
Figure 3. Total weight (kg/m2) of litter and its percentage in clean up site.
T. Al-Najjar et al. / Natural Science 3 (2011) 921-926
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
Figure 4. Percentage of litter items collected from different
clean up sites.
Figure 5. Percentage of plastic litter items collected in the
clean up site.
attributed to the fact that this site is popular and most
accessible site to local public and tourists. The litter
items found in the waters of these sites, particularly plas-
tic Bottles and bags, metal cans, and pieces of glass are
associated with and indicative of the activities of beach
Variations in the distribution and differences in the
composition of debris on recreation and non-recreation
beaches of the same study area have been noted and dis-
cussed by [36] who indicated that the waste discarded
from the Aqaba (Jordan)-Nweibi (Egypt) ferry boat is a
major source of litter found on the beach of the protected
area within the Marine Science Station beach at the
southern edge of the passengers port.
The results in the present study indicated that metal
cans and plastics were the numerically dominant litter
item within the whole study area followed by glass was
the third dominant item. These results are similar to what
has been reported from many parts of the world. Among
these are the results of [7] who studied the submerged
marine debris at Curacao West Indies waters, and found
that plastics were the dominant litter items (47% of the
total debris) followed by glass and metals. Similarly, [37]
found that plastic was the most abundant debris (79% -
83%) followed by metal (7.5% - 8.5%) in two enclosed
gulfs in Western Greece. Plastic in a form of bags and
bottles were the most common (70%) submerged debris
on the sea floor along the European coast [32]. Plastic
and metal were also the most common items of benthic
marine debris in many locations surrounding Kodiak
Island, Alaska [38]. According to the same report fishery
related submerged plastic were also common. Plastics
were the most common type of anthropogenic debris on
a wide area of the continental shelf of the southern Cali-
fornia Bight [35]. [29] reported the results of multi-
agency divers clean up survey that took place in two
northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Fourteen tons of derelict
fishing gear was removed in addition to other types of
reef debris.
In a previous report on the beach litter of the present
study area, we have concluded that most of the litter on
the Jordanian coastline of the Gulf of Aqaba results from
recreational and shipping activities; it was not easy to
differentiate between flotsam and litter left by beach
visitors; and that much of the letter onto the beaches was
of local land-based or close offshore origin [36]. It is
accepted that each of these sources requires a different
management action to affect a reduction in marine debris
In the present study, we have tried to benefit from the
coordinated efforts of volunteer divers and researcher to
clean the Al-Ghandoor the most popular area for the
tourist and the local visitors from debris in waters of less
than [29,36], and collect information on their types, and
distribution. The results of the present and other multi-
agency cleanup campaigns [39] show that these cam-
paigns are useful and can help producing good scientific
data and reports, which are useful for decision-makers
and environmental managers. This is also true for those
in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba region, which has
been designated under the terms of regulation 10 of
MARPOL and its Annexes as a “special area”. Annex V,
in particular prohibits and restricts the disposal of all
garbage from ships in any special area. However, it is
believed that the following actions can be useful in re-
ducing the debris in the study area.
Educational programs that are directed at reducing all
litter including land-based sources.
Educational and public awareness programs targeting
users of the marine environment including commer-
cial and recreational fishers, boaters including glass
boats, beach goers, divers, school teachers, students.
Educational tools must be made widely available and
distributed free to all targeted users. Tools may in-
clude brochures, leaflets, stickers and posters.
Multi-agency clean up campaigns must be maintained
the year around and data of the campaigns made avail-
T. Al-Najjar et al. / Natural Science 3 (2011) 921-926
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
able to the participants, decision makers, stakeholders,
and the public.
Put suitable regulations and enforce the already ado-
pted ones to ensure the compliance of marine and
each user with these regulations.
Cooperation and coordination with other riparian
countries along the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba to
take the necessary measures and actions including
cleaning campaigns that can help keeping the Gulf of
Aqaba waters and reefs free from marine debris.
Composition and abundance of submerged marine lit-
ter at one selected site (Al-Ghandoor) within a coral reef
area along the Jordanian coast of the Gulf of Aqaba has
been estimated. The results indicated that metal cans and
plastics were the numerically dominant litter item within
the whole study area followed by glass was the third
dominant item. The high diversity of litter collected
from the study site is attributed to its popular and most
accessible site for local public and tourists. The results
of the present and other multi-agency cleanup campaigns
show that these campaigns are useful and can help pro-
ducing good scientific data and reports, which are useful
for decision-makers and environmental managers.
The authors acknowledge the staff of The Royal Marine Conserva-
tion Society of Jordan (JREDS), especially Mr. Faisal Abu-Alsondus,
the Aqaba Diving Centers, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Author-
ity (AZEZA), the Aqaba Marine Park and the Marine Science Station
(MSS), and Jordanian Military force for their great efforts in the un-
dertaking of the underwater clean up dive. This was supported by the
NATO projects (SfP 982161 and 981883).
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