Pollution and scavengers
Decomposers typically live on the sea floor and include species like crabs, hermit crabs, whelks and starfish. They feed primary on decaying organic matter, which can often contain high concentrations of pollutants.  Therefore, decomposers tend to have higher pollutant contents than other zoobenthos. This although they both (unlike marine mammals and sea birds) also acquire a large part of their pollutants through direct contact with the water; while acquiring oxygen from the water, pollutants can be adsorbed as well.
Crabs, especially their larvae, appear to be vulnerable to pesticides, which resulted during the 1960s in the collapse of the Chesapeake Bay crab fishery, due to a pesticide called keptone.
Below you can find some links to Belgian case studies on ecotoxicology in marine scavengers.
- Moore P.G., Howarth J., 1996 Foraging by marine scavengers: Effects of relatedness, bait damage and hunger. Journal of Sea Research, Volume 36, Issues 3-4, P. 267-273
- Voorspoels, S.; Covaci, A.; Maervoet, J.; De Meester, I.; Schepens, P. (2004). Levels and profiles of PCBs and OCPs in marine benthic species from the Belgian North Sea and the Western Scheldt Estuary. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 49(5-6): 393-404
- Levinton, J.S. (2001). Marine biology: function, biodiversity, ecology. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press: New York, NY (USA). ISBN 0-19-514172-5. xi, 515, col. pl. pp.
- Temara, A.; Skei, J.M.; Gillan, D.; Warnau, M.; Jangoux, M.; Dubois, Ph. (1998). Validation of the asteroid Asterias rubens (Echinodermata) as a bioindicator of spatial and temporal trends of Pb, Cd, and Zn contamination in the field. Mar. Environ. Res. 45(4-5): 341-356